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War Games for Two Countries; French Presidential Race Heats Up; Digging Deeper Ties; Falling for the Wrong Guy; Worthy Sacrifice; Persecuted for Being Gay; Coping with Grief. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 26, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: War games on the Korean Peninsula. Both the North and South are flexing their muscles and CNN is there.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now the U.S. and South Korea insists that they haven't. They have no specific enemy in mind when they are carrying out these drills, but it's simply not the way that North Korea sees this.

CHURCH: Plus, France's far right candidate Marine Le Pen sharpens her attack on centrist Emmanuel Macron as the race for the presidency heats up.

And later, escaping Chechnya on the rainbow railroad. Hear from an activist who is helping gay people flee persecution and violence in Russia.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Fear of a military confrontation with North Korea are growing with the U.S. and Pyongyang flexing their military muscles again.

State media reportedly to Kim Jong-un supervised a massive demonstration of artillery power to celebrate Army Day.

Meanwhile, the U.S. says there's evidence of digging at a tunnel entrance of North Korea's nuclear testing site but it suggest a nuclear test is not imminent.

The U.S. and South Korea move parts of the THAAD anti-missile system to a deployment site. Some South Koreans are protesting the move and the entire U.S. Senate is being summoned to the White House on Wednesday for a rare classified briefing on North Korea.

U.S. House members will be briefed separately.

Well, our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul. So Paula, you were at a major live fire drill, what did you witnessed and how is North Korea responding to these joint exercises?

HANCOCKS: Well, Rosemary, this is what happens every year, these are the two months of military drills between the U.S. and South Korea. They say to make sure that they can enhance their interoperability. They say they are necessary to make sure effectively they can work next to each other should the need arise.

Now of course, every year it annoys North Korea. That we went too long to one, just last week this embargo to until today. And it was certainly a very significant one.

Massive fire power destroys an imaginary enemy. A joint ground and aerial attack shown to the media so we can show the world that dominate South Korea and the United States military could do.

Now the U.S. and South Korea insists that they haven't. They have no specific enemy in mind when they are carrying out these drills, but it's simply not the way that North Korea see this.

Action speaks louder than words for Pyongyang.

Washington says these drills are routine annual defensive. Pyongyang says they're provocative and hostile. North Korea holding its own massive military drills Tuesday to mark an important day, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military, the Korea People's Army.

Spring is often tense in Korea. Annual war games by the U.S. and South Korea interpreted in the northeast practicing for an invasion.

But without training, the U.S. military says it won't be ready to fight tonight, as they say.


KELSEY CASEY, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It's essential. The only way that we're ever going to be able to fight is to train like we fight.


HANCOCKS: The U.S. says Michigan nuclear powered submarine docked at Pusan Port in South Korea Tuesday, described as both routine and a show of force within the U.S. military.

The USS Carl Vinson heading back to the region and the U.S. missile defense system THAAD is arriving in pieces to be fully operational the sooner possible. An unmistakable buildup of U.S. military assets. And no matter how routine this live fire frill may be, it's an image that won't last on North Korea.

Now the U.S. has point out that these kinds of military drills take months to plan, so certainly it's not reacting to any kind of heightened tensions on the peninsula at this moment. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Paula, you mentioned there in your story that the U.S. military has moved its controversial THAAD anti-missile defense system to a deployment site. What more do you know about this and when might it be ready for use?

[03:04:56] HANCOCKS: Yes, this was the next step that we were waiting for some parts had arrived in country already. It was going to arrive in pieces and then be assembled at the location itself in the southeast of the country.

So it has arrived now. Parts of it are there, they will be set up as soon as possible. We're hearing from officials that the South Korean defense ministry says that they're hoping it will be operational by the end of the year. That's actually later than suggestions we have heard from the U.S. side in recent months.

They have suggested it could be as early as September, but there's not a definite time as to when this will be fully operational. But of course, the situation here in South Korea is they are waiting for a presidential election. That happens on May 9th.

And the front runner at this point, Moon Jae-in, has said that he doesn't agree with THAAD being deployed here without parliament approval, He would like if he takes power to start negotiating about this and find out whether or not it is absolutely necessary put it to parliament.

So that could be a stumbling block for this being fully operational if he is elected president. Rosemary?

CHURCH: A number of developments there. Our Paula Hancocks joining us live from Seoul in South Korea, where it is just after 4 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

Well, the North Koreans military holidays like army day are a very big deal. We got a rare look inside the celebrations from CNN's Will Ripley, the only American television journalist in North Korea.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Army Day in North Korea, the 85th anniversary of the Korean People's Army. More than a million active duty soldiers, more than six million if you count reserves and paramilitary, one of the largest standing armies in the world.

We almost never see this side of North Korea's men and women in uniform.

This is a public holiday here in North Korea which means citizens are enjoying a rare day off. And as you often see on day like this, lots on dancing in the street carefully choreographed display of national pride. North Korea calls it single hearted unity.

Outsiders say these men and women have no other choice.

As Pyongyang residents danced, a very different kind of demonstration on North Korea's East Coast. The nation's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, showing force with what South Korea calls a large scale artillery drill. Less than two weeks after this massive military parade and a failed missile launch.

Analysts say this new North Korean missiles could someday carry nuclear warheads to the mainland U.S.




RIPLEY: A growing arsenal President Trump called a great threat to the world. He is pushing the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for developing weapons of mass destruction that violate U.N. resolutions.

In its own show of force, the U.S. deployed a nuclear submarine to South Korea, as the U.S., South Korea, and Japan conducted joint naval drills Monday. All this, as the USS Carl Vinson moves closer to the waters off the Korean Peninsula.

The approaching U.S. warships haunts his memories for this North Korean veteran. Senior Lieutenant Colonel Un Yong-il's (Ph) speaks to me in front of the USS Pueblo, a U.S. navy spy ship North Korea captured in 1968.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Pueblo reminds me of a (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)



TRUMP: People don't realize Canada has been very rough on the United States. Everyone thinks of Canada has been wonderful, and so do I. I love Canada. But they've outsmarted our politicians for many years, as few people understand that. So we did institute a very big tariff.


CHURCH: Previous U.S. administrations have faced this issue before and have worked out temporary fixes. But this president wants to show he's tough on trade. Canada says it will fight the new fees.


CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Our view is that these tariffs that the U.S. allegations that somehow we're subsidizing our industry, our view is that simply wrong. And in the past on every occasion when we have taken commerce department to courts we have won at every level, at the WTO, at NAFTA, the rulings have always been in Canada's favor.


CHURCH: And possible fallout from this trade tariff, a U.S. homebuilder's association says the tariffs will raise the cost of new homes in the U.S. by about $3,000 apiece. Well, investigations into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia have not turned up solid evidence of collusion so far. But the leaders of a House panel say they think a former top adviser to the president may have broken the law.

CNN's Manu Raju has the details.




MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New problems for the White House over Russia. A top republican suggesting the president's former national security adviser may have broken the law.


RAJU: From what you've seen so far do you believe that Michael Flynn broke the law from either not disclosing it his payments on a security clearance or not getting permission for getting this foreign payments.

JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Personally I see no information or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law. I see no evidence that he actually did that.


RAJU: As a former military officer, Flynn was supposed to get permission from top defense officials for payments that he received from foreign governments. And the law required him to list those payments including more than half a million dollars into his lobbying fees, and $45,000 in fees for 2015 speech in Moscow paid by the Kremlin backed television network, RT.

During that same trip, Flynn was pictured next to Putin at a fancy dinner. Now House lawmaker say, Flynn may have knowingly falsified to conceal information on his forms. A felony.


MANU: And you think, Congressman that this could be punishable up to five years in prison you said.

CUMMINGS: Yes, I think it definitely. That's why I cited a quote, but that's going to be left up to others to decide. I just want to know what his exposure is.


RAJU: In a statement, Flynn's attorney Robert Kelner said his client briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency extensively both before and after the trip. But sources tell CNN that Flynn did not disclose that he was paid a fee for the trip as required. And today, a new questions whether Flynn told the White House about this payment as he was vetted to become Trump's national security advisor. The White House's director of legislative affairs, Marc Short said in a letter that it would not provide some documents about Flynn because they were outside the scope of the committee's enquiry.

But the White House won't say if Flynn broke the law.


SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't know what he filled out and what he do or did not do.


RAJU: The top democrat in the Senate decline to rule out pushing for a subpoena to force Flynn to testify.


CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: These are extremely, extremely troubling allegations today.

RAJU: Will it be necessary for the issue of subpoena?

SCHUMER: Well, we'll see.


RAJU: And tonight, the GOP chairman of the Senate intelligence committee rejecting Flynn's offer to testify in exchange for immunity.


RAJU: Is there any way you get Flynn immunity to testify?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There's no way. No.

RAJU: Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

CHURCH: And Russia has called reports of ties to the Trump team lies and fake news.

[03:15:00] let's head to Moscow now and CNN's Diana Magnay. So Diana, what more are you learning about the event that put Michael Flynn in a photograph with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two men sitting next to each other at a Russian state gala dinner.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was the 10th anniversary of RT, Russia Today, which is the Kremlin-backed, Kremlin-sponsored TV channel here. So, President Putin was there to give a speech, praising the channel for the 10 years of its broadcasting and the success.

He said that he had made of what he called impartial fair reporting. This was also, bear in mind, a couple of months. It was December 2016, a couple of months after President Putin had gone into Syria, had intervened in Syria on President Assad's request.

And of course, that was a major propaganda coup for the president who have such a senior figure. (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

CHURCH: ... presidential runoff, how she's planning to change the numbers. We'll look into that when we come back.


[03:20:02] KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN World Sport headlines.

Having suffered two losses in their last four Premier League game, league leaders Chelsea take to the pitch Tuesday in danger of letting a one unattainable lead at the top of the table slipped away.

The blues were at home to South Hampton but first half goals from Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill were matched by two goals from Diego Costa in the second half as Chelsea won 4-2. They are now 7 points clear as third who do so have a game in hand.

After 15 months away from the game, five-time major champion Maria Sharapova is set to return to the tennis court for the first time since being banned from the game. Back last March last year, Sharapova announced she has failed a test from Meldonium but had her ban reduced after appeal and is eligible to play this week.

The 30-year-old Russian has received a wild card to the Stuttgart Open and will be back on court Wednesday against Roberta Vinci.

And after a series of unfortunate recent incidents the USGA and the R&A, golf's two governing bodies have issued a new rule limiting the power of video reviews effective immediately. The new rules stem from incidents involving last year's U.S. Open.

And this is A&A inspiration where Lexi Thompson was penalized four strokes after a fan called in an apparent infraction seen on the video. But now tournament officials themselves will be able to determine if there's been a penalty.

And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

CHURCH: France's two presidential candidates are sharpening their attacks on each other. Centrist Emmanuel Macron says his opponent Marine Le Pen is promoting hatred. Poll shows him easily winning the run-off on May 7th.

Critics and allies have criticized him, though, for acting as if victory is certain. Le Pen says Macron is weak on terrorism and is the candidate of the oligarchy.

Well, Melissa Bell joins us now from Paris with more on this. So Melissa, you joined the French network TF1's interview of Le Pen. She is still convinced she has a path to victory in this May 7th run-off. What's her strategy as she tries to win this? MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really to carry on, Rosemary, with this idea that it is her and her campaign against the elite, against the media, against the establishment, against the sitting president.

And the point of this program was really to have a look at what she would look like as a president. So, to go behind, perhaps the animosity towards her campaign that we saw in the run-off to the first round and to say, OK. We now have two candidates, and this is the beauty of the French system. You have the luxury of this two-week period. This time, between the first and the second round.

So you had the opportunity to look at this two and say, well, what kind of president would you be. They're no longer really first round candidates facing off with many others. We're now looking at a choice. And there is a stark difference between the style and substance that Emmanuel Macron represents and what Marine Le Pen represents.

I began by putting to her that it seems to ask, the foreign press, that the populist way that had brought Brexit and Donald Trump seem to be stopping in France. So, after all, she didn't win the first round, she came in second. This was her answer.


MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): What is happening is certainly a revolt against elite. The people get the feeling that the elite have been working for their own personal interests and that they have forgotten the huge responsibility that they're got in regard to people.

And so people are saying, we want to take back power. We don't trust the elites anymore. We need to take back the power and we want to be sovereign once again.

And that's probably what happened with Brexit and probably what happened with the election of Donald Trump whose campaign was conducted in extremely difficult circumstances. Because he was confronted by a world which was almost impenetrable. Media, actors, singers, and performers were all against him. Everything that makes up the oligarchy.

This is trust is now spreading right across Europe.

BELL: You're right. It is spreading through Europe and that something we've been following very closely. And indeed, in the run-off for this first round we felt this anger building in France and got the feeling that you could in fact succeed.

Your difficulty now, though, in the run-off to the second round is that you will have to convince the other parts of the French electorate. Fifty percent of them that you are not the candidate of anger and that you can bring them together around a single common project. What is your strategy?

[03:24:59] LE PEN (through translator): Just look at how our president of the republic has been behaving in relation to other countries as well as those people immediately around him of which of course, Mr. Macron is one because he is the candidate of Hollande.

I have never seen such an attitude as this. I'm completely level headed and clear in this respect. I'm absolutely against double standard and from a multi polar world.

I think that what the nations of the world cannot put up with a double standards. The French are often reproach for their arrogance and for giving lessons to other people. I don't have that vision at all.

I want a peaceful relationship with all the nations, with United States, with Russia, and with the U.K. What have we seen in the last couple of months? We've seen the U.S. president more or less insulted by the president of France, those who voted for Brexit insulted as well, and as for Russia, well, I don't even want to say how the president of France talks about Russia.

This means that we are at war with everyone, with Poland whom we call all kinds of names, with the Greeks, but I don't have that vision at all. Once again, I believe that I am the candidate who is capable of having absolutely peaceful relations with all the nations of the world. Because what nations want is respect.

Everyone wants to be respected and that goes to the French as well. Their way of life, their choices, their identity, that's exactly the policy which will be mine.


BELL: Now on that question of the closer ties that she seeks with Moscow I put to her that Moscow was accused of intervening not only in the American election but in the French as well, in favor of his or her campaign and against of Emmanuel Macron.

She said that this hadn't been proven and that until it was her attitude would remain one of open-mindedness towards Moscow.

CHURCH: So Melissa, her opponent Emmanuel Macron is convinced that he will win this election and the polls seem to back him up on that, but how careful does he have to be and not appearing to be too confident about that outcome?

BELL: You're absolutely right, Rosemary. It's sort of triumph tone at this stage would be catastrophic for him. In fact, he was criticized for that very public since it was filmed celebration after his first round of victory. He says he was taking out his campaign to thank them for the work they've done.

But he did remind France of Nicolas Sarkozy who almost famously went out to celebrate one of the Champs-Elysee's very chic restaurants, and it's really darn he hit the wrong turn set the stage for him being called the bling president there on.

So, Emmanuel Macron has an extremely tight pass to walk between now and the second round of voting, still for the time being the poll suggests that he should really go into it with an awful lot of support and all the chances on his side, Rosemary.

CHURCH: yes. And we look forward to your interview with him in the coming hours. Melissa Bell, joining us there live from Paris, where it is nearly 9.30 in the morning. Many thanks.

And still to come, we will introduce you to a woman who thought she was going on vacation with her husband and ended up in the heart of ISIS territory in Syria.

We're back in a moment.


[03:30:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: A very warm welcome to ur viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary.

I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour.

The U.S. says there is evidence of digging at a tunnel entrance of North Korea's nuclear testing site, but it suggest a nuclear test is not imminent.

And the entire U.S. Senate is being summoned to the White House on Wednesday for a rare classified briefing on North Korea.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will host her final question time in a few hours from now before parliamentary business stops for campaigning. Mrs. May shocked the U.K. last week by calling an early election. She said she wants a clear mandate for her Brexit plans.

Iraqi forces have now liberated 70 percent of western Mosul according to a senior military official; he says the remaining ISIS militants are now completely surrounded. ISIS seized control of Mosul nearly three years ago and is their last major stronghold in Iraq.

A woman who met her husband on a dating web site thought they were going on vacation, but instead she round up in the heart of ISIS territory in Syria.

Ben Wedeman reports.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A steady stream of civilians is fleeing Raqqa as the news tightens on ISIS' de facto capital. And it's not just Syrians leaving the city. It's also those who came some against their will to live in the so-called caliphate.

Twenty-three-year-old Islam Mitat from Morocco has found refuge with her two small children at a guest house run by the YPG, the U.S.- backed Kurdish force fighting ISIS in northeast Syria.

Her journey to Syria started more than three years ago with a visit to an online Muslim match-making site, where she met her future husband, Ahmed Khalil, British national of Afghan origin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ISLAM MITAT, FORMER ISIS WIFE: He was in Dubai and he told me he have job in Turkey, so he told me to come with me, he is going to do his job and we go to for holiday too, me and him.


WEDEMAN: The 'holiday' her husband had in mind however, was in Syria.


MITAT: It's a surprise to go to Syria. So, when we went, when I told him why he didn't ask me, why he didn't take my own decision, so I will not come or not. So he told me, no, you're my wife and you have to obey me.


WEDEMAN: They crossed from Turkey into Syria with others like her and ended up in a special guest house for Muhajireen, those who moved to ISIS realm.


MITAT: From U.K. from Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, Canada, Belgium, France, all the world, everyone is there, Saudi Arabia.


WEDEMAN: Soon afterwards, her husband Ahmed was killed in the battle of Khobani. She was forced to remarry a German this time, but she divorced in two months later.

[03:35:03] She married a third time, an Australian and moved to Raqqa where she stayed for two years.


MITAT: Honestly I forget my normal life. And there is the situation in the last month, the situation in Raqqa it's so bad like the bombs of the coalitions and stuff like this. It's so bad. And sometimes there's no electricity and water and it's not too much food.


WEDEMAN: In Raqqa, she had one thing in mind. Escape.


MITAT: Like for two years I'm asking people to help me, but everyone like someone ask me like too much money. They ask me like too much money, like more than $5,000 like that.


WEDEMAN: Eventually she did manage to escape but is now in limbo. Her Kurdish host contacted the Moroccan government and her father through this report is hoping Morocco's King Mohammed VI will intercede. Islam wants to return to Morocco but worries about the future of her family.


MITAT: I don't know where I will go. I don't know because now my life is destroyed.


WEDEMAN: Holiday in Syria turned to hell.

Ben Wedeman, CNN.

CHURCH: CNN Freedom Project heads to Brazil to look at the tragedy of modern day slavery. The South American country is renowned for its grass-fed beef, but people who buyers aren't thinking about how it's produced.

A Dominican friar has dedicated his life to rescuing exploited workers.

Our Shasta Darlington has the story.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in northern Brazil cows feast on a rolling pasture carved out of the semi-Amazon jungle. The famous grass-fed beef are stable at home and shift off to foreign markets from Hong Kong to the U.K.

Few consumers even think about the human cost. Xavier Plassat, however, has made it his life's mission. A French Dominican friar on the front line in the battle against extreme labor exploitation, what Brazil defines as modern day slavery.


XAVIER PLASSAT, BRAZIL-BASED DOMINICAN FRIAR: The main point about slavery is that somebody wants to make profit with zero cost. And here more than everywhere is easy. You want frontier of farming or wrenching.


DARLINGTON: Araguaina a typical frontier town where the mechanic shop looks like a triage center for tractors and the only markets are farmers markets.


PLASSAT: How are you?

DARLINGTON: Good to see you.

It's here that Plassat works with the Catholic Pastoral Land Commission or CPT. Coordinating the national campaign against exploitation. He says roughly 25,000 Brazilians are lured into slave- like conditions every year.

PLASSAT: The roots is mainly the extreme vulnerability of the entire communities who are, have no access to the rights.


DARLINGTON: But he's fighting back with a network of agents and informants in those same communities who sent tips to federal authorities. This has gotten some of the church activists killed.


PLASSAT: I don't say we want to be martyrs. It's not the -- we tried to be present to share the suffering and to help them.


DARLINGTON: With the help of the Pastoral Commission more than 50,000 workers have been rescued since 1995 when the government created it's anti-exploitation mobile units.

Joao Luiz da Costa is one of them. He was rescued in a raid at the day before. He tells me he hadn't been paid for seven months but never wanted to ask for help.


JOAO LUIZ DA COSTA, RANCH WORKER (through translator): If my family had found me in that situation I would have been so (Inaudible). I prayed to God for help I've never been a burden on any.


DARLINGTON: Now Costa is staying at a safe house provided by the Pastoral Commission.

[03:39:58] So, from what Joao is saying the commission really has reputation among real workers this is where they go when they need help.


PLASSAT: Yes, it seems to be.

DARLINGTON: But Plassat warns that Brazil is in danger of sliding backwards as it cuts spending on the mobile units.

PLASSAT: Today they work with, I think four national teams. Eight years ago they had 10 national teams.


DARLINGTON: Government inspectors themselves say diminishing resources lead to huge delays in following up on those tips.

One of the main tools used to shame employers and to compliance has also been undermined. Every year, the labor men as republishes a dirty list of companies cut exploiting workers. But recently, its publications has been repeatedly blocked. Then there's the increasingly powerful rural lobby in the national Congress which has push to relax Brazil's very broad definition of slave labor.

Most important, Plassat says, Brazil has failed to tackle the root of exploitation.


PLASSAT: Impunity, greed, vulnerability, misery, if you don't address at the same time all of it, you will have probably the same persons coming back to the same cycle of slavery.


DARLINGTON: The question for now remains, at what cost is our beef being produced?

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Araguaina, Brazil.

CHURCH: And coming up tomorrow, a story about modern day slavery from Mexico.

Rafael Romo meets a woman who spends three decades as a domestic slave.

Lupita (Ph) says she was forced to do house work and care for the other children. She was not paid. And she remembers the lady of the house gave her only leftovers scraps to eat and not giving her a bed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would say that we indigenous people were used to sleeping on the floor like animals. She had a sofa but wouldn't let me use it because she said I was going to ruin it.


CHURCH: And we will have her story and more on the victims of slavery in Mexico tomorrow on the CNN Freedom Project.

Well, we are hearing horrific stories about the treatment of gay men in Chechnya. Still to come, how a Canadian charity is working to help from part of world away.


CHURCH: An activist group called Rainbow Railroad is helping gay people to escape violence, and possibly death in the Russian region of Chechnya. Gay men who have fled the region say they experience persecution, beatings, torture, and mass arrest after crackdown by the government there. But they also say they fear what their families would do to them if they were ousted as gay.

Here is what one man who wanted to remain anonymous told CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If my family finds out that I'm gay then no authorities, no troops are needed, they will kill me themselves even if my parents will forgive me, someone like my uncle won't forgive.


CHURCH: The Chechen republic is a mostly Muslim area in southern Russia. It's run by this man, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is supported by President Putin. Now he has denied the crackdown and even denies that any gay men exist in the region.

Joining me now via Skype from San Francisco is Kimahli Powell. He is the executive director of Rainbow Railroad. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So what's your organization doing to help people escape the violence in Chechnya?

POWELL: So Rainbow Railroad is managed is to help first LGBTQ people finds safety all over the world. Last year, we have 81 people find safety. And so in response to this crisis we are partnering with the LGBT network to facilitate travel for people, for Chechens who found safe haven in Russia out of the country.

CHURCH: Now, understandably, people are too scared to reveal that they are gay. So how do you go about identifying those people who need to flee and how do you actually help them?

POWELL: The Russian LGBT network has been doing some heroic work on trying a hotline who do a verification process and then the people that they have match are traumatized. They are fleeing, their stories are clearly real, but we go through a process that as soon as we do we identify the individual who are ready to travel. And then we ultimately find them a pathway to safety.

CHURCH: Now you mentioned the stories, what are some of the personal stories that you feel you can share with us of some of the people that you have been helping.

POWELL: I mean, I've been hearing stories come out of people who two individuals who fled, you know, they were beaten, they were, you know, apartments were ransacked, they are fleeing. Much, you know, they are fortunate they were able to escape.

There are unfortunately too many people they are still detained that we cannot help yet. And so they are still traumatize. They are being force out of their homes as the situation enforces migration and we're just giving them the time to heal and time to adapt the new reality. Six weeks ago, they were living their rights.

CHURCH: Yes, once people are out of Chechnya what then, how do they get back on their faith and back to some sense of normalcy.

POWELL: So, we are working with partners all over the world and governments that are willing to help to facilitate travel and facilitate support those individuals after they arrived. We've got at least 32 -- 30 people that we've identified that are ready to go and we're in process of moving people as we speak.

CHURCH: Now, of course it is a great job that you do helping these people, you're saving lives in most instances. But it's not really getting to the root of the problem, is it? What can be done if anything about the cause here?

POWELL: Yes. Our job is to help people escape. Certainly we need to do everything we can to condemn the violence and help the people who are in captivities. And that's where, you know, the Russia LGBT network is calling on governments to speak out and use their diplomatic tools to help people who were currently in these camps.

CHURCH: Kihmali Powell, it is a great work that you do. Thank you so much for coming on CNN and explaining it to us. A lot of people didn't realize these sorts of things were going on in Chechnya. Many thanks.

POWELL: Thank you for having me.

[03:49:55] CHURCH: We'll take a short break here, but still to come, Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook. She tells us about the sudden death of her husband and how she and her kids are handling the grief. We're back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook, a mother of two, and since nearly two years ago, a widow. Her husband, Dave Goldberg was only 47 when he passed away. He suffered from a cardiac condition that contributed to his death during a vacation in Mexico.

Earlier, Sheryl spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper on the family is coping with Dave's death.


SHERYL SANDBERG, FACEBOOK COO: My kids have perspective. I wouldn't wish it on anyone but they have it. Just the other day my son basketball lost the playoffs. Now the other little kids were pretty upset and some of the little boys were crying. And I look to my son and I said, are you OK? He goes, "mom, this is sixth grade basketball. I am fine."

But they're strong. They've been through something hard and they still laugh and they still play.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And you guys are there for each other. You got a very poignant anecdote in the book about being upset you go to, your son has a concert and you go there and you're upset because you see the absence of Dave and all the other -- amidst all the other dancer. And you come back and you come back and you have a big event, you need

to be part of for Facebook. Tell the rest of the story.

SANDBERG: Yes. It's at the concert all the other parents were there, the fathers. I just -- hit me that Dave will never be again. And I went try to hold it together at the school and I was upstairs in my room crying and all of Facebook's most important clients are downstairs and they're house for dinner. They only come once a year.

And my son came in, he said, what are you doing? I said, we have to go downstairs. He said, "mommy, they're here." And I said, well, I can't go downstairs I'm crying. And I just was trying to stop crying, I couldn't.

You know, a little later and he looked me and he said, "mom, you should just go downstairs. They all know what happened to us. It's OK." And then he turned around and said, "And I bet they have things they cried about too."

And as I'm comfortable as it is in some ways for me and any of us to share these things openly.

[03:55:01] One of the main reasons I wrote this is, I want to kick elephants out of a lot of rooms. Because hardships brings in an elephant. Before Dave died, when I drop my kids off of school, everyone said, hi, I walk in to work, everyone chit chat. After Dave, not so much.

TAPPER: Yes, you wrote about that, about people not knowing how to handle their friendship with you, not knowing how to address and some friends of yours just kind of disappeared.

SANDBERG: Yes, and my closest friends and family were amazing and they are, why I'm here. But as I kind of move to the world the people I normally interacted with I think they were afraid to say anything so they didn't say anything at all. And I understood that because that's what I did before to other people.

I thought if I brought I was reminding someone. You can't remind me I love Dave, that's absurd. I know that. You also can't remind someone they have cancer, that their father just went to jail, you know, that they face sexual assault. We can't remind people of those things. But we don't talk about them.

And that means we're not there for each when we most can be. And the reason I wrote this book with Adam and we started is to try to get people to talk openly when they want to. Not everyone wants to all the time. Bu so we can support each other. No one gets through these things alone.


CHURCH: Well, some tough stories there. And now Sandberg noted she has a new book out the chronicles of her life from the lessons she learned since her husband's death. It's called "Option B, Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy." And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to

connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues now with our Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN.

Have yourselves a great day.