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Duke of Edinburgh Laid to Rest at Windsor Castle; Europe Aims to Speed Up Vaccinations; Military Crackdown Cripples Myanmar's COVID- 19 Fight; Indianapolis Shooting; U.S. Gun Violence Epidemic; Closing Arguments Monday in Floyd Murder Trial; Alexei Navalny Dying in Prison; New Policies Could Impact Americans Held Overseas; Global Citizen Virtual Concert to Raise Vaccine Awareness. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 18, 2021 - 00:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Michael Holmes. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, a commemoration fit for a prince. The poignant and touching moments from across the globe.

Today is Alexei Navalny's 19th day without food. Those close to him say he could be dead within days. I'll speak to one of his colleagues.

It's called super typhoon Surigae, with winds of 292 kpm, it's living up to its name. We're live in the Weather Center with Derek Van Dam.


HOLMES: A somber and poignant day in the U.K. as Britain's Prince Philip was laid to rest at Windsor Castle. Queen Elizabeth and the royal family bade their final farewells to the Duke of Edinburgh in what was a scaled down funeral due to COVID restrictions and the duke's own wishes.

The service, socially distanced with a small group of 30 guests, sitting in their own respective bubbles. That includes Her Majesty, seen sitting here alone. It is a striking image, given that for 73 years, Prince Philip was a constant figure at her side.

And people across Britain mourned with their queen, as eight days of national mourning came to a close with Saturday's funeral. CNN's Anna Stewart joins us live from Windsor. She's been covering this throughout.

Anna, good morning to you. Give us a sense of how the day played out.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning, Michael. It was so elegant and simple and it just beautifully reflected Prince Philip's life and all the things that mattered to him. But I think the most striking and sobering image was that of the queen, who sat all by herself in a pew. But here's how the day unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEWART (voice-over): An old-school prince going out in his own style.


STEWART (voice-over): The duke of Edinburgh was heavily involved in the planning of his funeral, which began with a short procession from Windsor Castle to St. George's Chapel.


STEWART (voice-over): It was steeped in military tradition. His sword and naval cap laid on top of his casket, which was carried by a modified Land Rover he helped design.

A decorated veteran of World War II, more than 700 military personnel took part in the ceremony.

The duke's much-loved carriage and pony stood by. His cap and gloves left poignantly on the seat.


STEWART (voice-over): The prince was a family man. His children, grandchildren and members of his personal staff walked behind dressed in mourning suits instead of military uniforms.


STEWART (voice-over): Brothers Prince Harry and Prince William walked with their cousin, Peter Phillips, between them.


STEWART (voice-over): The lines of mourners and military guards a somber contrast to the queen's arrival, stepping out alone and taking a seat by herself in the chapel --


STEWART (voice-over): -- waiting for the partner who stood by her for more than seven decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here today in St. George's Chapel to commit into the hands of God the soul of his servant, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

STEWART (voice-over): The ceremony was pared down to just 30 people due to coronavirus restrictions. It included members of the royal family and the duke's German relatives.


STEWART (voice-over): The choir sang a selection of music, hand- picked by Prince Philip.


STEWART (voice-over): His casket was then lowered into the royal vault where it will stay until Her Majesty dies, when they'll be reunited.


STEWART (voice-over): A bugle sounded the last post and then a naval battle cry --


STEWART (voice-over): -- action stations.


STEWART (voice-over): This was the funeral Prince Philip wanted.

Although, one part he didn't orchestrate was perhaps one of the most moving, Prince William and Prince Harry, walking together and chatting after the service, a sign of unity that would have made their grandfather proud.



STEWART: Meanwhile, I think that was the most moving part really. The royal family entered this chapel in a procession that was terribly formal. And you almost felt like they all let out a big breath as they left and they filed out and chatted as they went back to Windsor Castle, like any normal family.

It's just that sort of idea that grief does somehow unite families, them like any other. Michael?

HOLMES: I'm curious as to what you think the impact of the duke's death will be, on how the royal family evolves and modernizes and so forth?

STEWART: Well, the queen has lost her husband of 73 years, the man she called her strength and stay, on her golden wedding anniversary. This will have a big impact on her. She's turning 95 on Wednesday. Her first birthday, of course, as a widow.

This will have a big impact. You must remember there has been in some ways a steady transition over the years. The Duke of Edinburgh retired from public duties in 2017 and he decided to live on the Sandringham estate, so he has been living apart from the queen for some years.

Although not this year; due to the pandemic, they have been bubbled in Windsor together. It will have an impact. Expect the queen to spend more time in Windsor here and already we see Prince Charles and other senior members of the royal family taking up some of those public duties, especially when it comes to overseas trips. The queen no longer does those. Through the pandemic with the power of

Zoom, we've seen more senior members of the royal family taking more of a role. For instance, Sophie, Countess of Wessex. So this is a slow transition I think we will see over the coming years.

But the queen won't be going anywhere. She pledged to serve this nation and the Commonwealth for her whole life, be it short of long. Michael?

HOLMES: All right thanks so much, Anna Stewart there in Windsor for us.

And Canadians said farewell to the late duke on Saturday with a memorial service at Christchurch Cathedral in Ottawa. Philip accompanied the queen on almost all of her 22 royal tours to Canada and made numerous visits to the country on his own.

Canadian flags have been flying at half staff to honor that close relationship Philip maintained with the commonwealth member. Prime minister Justin Trudeau paying respect in a taped message for Saturday's ceremony.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Prince Philip was a man of great service, a man who believed in people and, in particular, in young people. He challenged them to do more, to believe in themselves, to push for a better and brighter tomorrow.


HOLMES: Now these images from Uganda show scouts and participants of Prince Philip's youth program, the Duke of Edinburgh Award. He visited Uganda over the years and around 100,000 Ugandans had participated in that program that now spans 140 countries.

Prince Philip's childhood school in Scotland honored its former student. They laid a wreath at sea where the young Philip learned to sail. A lone piper, as you can hear, playing a funeral march. He attended the school as a teenager. The Duke of Edinburgh died April 9 at Windsor Castle, aged 99.


HOLMES: Three million lives lost to the coronavirus worldwide, that devastating figure according to Johns Hopkins University data. Let's stop for a second and put that into context.

That's around the entire population of Chicago. Each of those 3 million people, of course, had a face and a name and a family, who couldn't be there with them as they passed.

And while we have seen many of these milestones come and go, this number, unimaginable at the start of the pandemic, should not be lost on us. And it comes as India's devastating spike in COVID-19 cases is pushing

hospitals there to the brink. The city of Delhi reporting more than 24,000 cases just on Saturday, the highest since the pandemic began.

And the city is facing a huge shortage of hospital beds with the government now trying to add 6,000 beds over the next four days by converting wedding halls, for instance, into makeshift wards.

Countries across Europe are racing to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 but that effort is being complicated by E.U. regulators suspending use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. CNN's Melissa Bell with more.



MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three million COVID-19 related deaths worldwide. That, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, 1 million of those recorded in the greater European region.

This week, France passed a grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, Emmanuel Macron tweeting no face and no name will be forgotten. This as European countries tried to pick up the pace of their vaccine rollouts here in France; 6.3 percent of the population has now been fully vaccinated.

Over in Germany that figure is 6.5 percent. The German chancellor Angela Merkel this week got her first vaccine in the shape of the AstraZeneca shot, that, a certificate tweeted out by her spokesperson earlier this week, an AstraZeneca vaccine that is only now in many European countries being given to older populations.

Another hiccup on the road of Europe's vaccine rollout has been the suspension by several E.U. countries of the J&J vaccine. We are awaiting the results of the European Medicines Agency investigation that we should get next week to determine whether it believes it can be safely used here in Europe.

Elsewhere, Europeans now really looking ahead as to what those rolled out vaccination programs and tightened restrictions will mean in terms of reopening their economies once again. This is what Mario Draghi had to tell Italians this week.


MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This risk that the government has taken and that surely meets the expectations of the citizens, is based on a premise that people strictly respect the reopening rules, so face masks, social distancing.


BELL: Other European countries are also looking at how they can begin to ease restrictions and, more particularly, how they can begin to lift those travel restrictions ahead of the busy tourist period.

The European tourism industry, which is worth many hundreds of billions of euros, has been at a standstill for many months. Countries like Portugal and Greece are very dependent on that tourism, pushing for the European vaccine passports that should allow Europeans to get around more freely than they have so far.

Greece has announced that anybody who has been negative or been vaccinated from either Europe or the United States and a few other countries will now be able to come without quarantining.

Portuguese authorities also say that they are looking toward the European vaccine passport mechanism to allow tourists to avoid quarantines as they come to Portugal this summer.

Here in France, authorities are looking to May 15th as a possible day for some of the lifting of restrictions and the reopening of cafes and museums that have been closed in France since October -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


HOLMES: In Myanmar, the violent crackdown by the military is not the only danger facing its citizens. February's coup has stalled efforts to fight the coronavirus, putting the entire population at risk. As CNN's Ivan Watson explains, that problem may not stop at Myanmar's borders, either. A warning, part of his report contains graphic video.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crackdown after Myanmar's military coup claimed hundreds of lives in just two months. But there are also many unseen casualties of this rapidly escalating crisis.

I. WATSON: What is happening with the battle against COVID-19 in Myanmar since the February 1st coup?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Failing, totally failing at controlling the disease.

WATSON (voice-over): Experts like this epidemiologist from Myanmar are sounding the alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say that the COVID-19 control mechanism has totally collapsed in Myanmar.

I. WATSON (voice-over): Already one of the poorest countries in Asia, Myanmar was ill equipped to handle the pandemic. But Myanmar ramped up testing and treatment and even began giving doctors and nurses their first vaccination shots in January of this year.

That progress came to a screeching halt on February 1st, when the military overthrew the elected civilian government. Confirmed COVID cases, already on the decline, suddenly plunged to less than 20 a day. But that, experts say, is due to a collapse in testing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more than 1,000 tests a day are being conducted

and that's in the context of, before February, the average was about 16,000 tests per day.

I. WATSON (voice-over): Doctors were among the first to protest against the coup. Many health care workers joined in anti-coup civil disobedience movements and went on strike, including this doctor, whom we can't identify for his safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medical personnel don't want to do their work under the coup.

I. WATSON (voice-over): Until the coup, he ran a hospital COVID treatment center. He says no one's working there anymore.


I. WATSON: Are you worried about a another wave of COVID infections in Myanmar?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. If there is another wave coming in, the situation is worse than ever.

I. WATSON (voice-over): For more than months, the strike has all but paralyzed the public system, prompting the military junta to issue public statements asking health care workers to return to work immediately.

But the crackdown, that has killed more than 700 people, hasn't spared medical workers. This week the military published this wanted list, including doctors accused of supporting the civil disobedience movement, now at risk of arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we are sure to be arrested. So who dares to go back in the hospital?

I. WATSON (voice-over): Experts warn that if COVID-19 explodes in Myanmar again, neighboring countries won't be spared.

The Chinese government launched a vaccination and testing blitz in the border city of Ruili after an outbreak of COVID-19 began late March. Beijing says nearly half of confirmed positive cases in the province are Myanmar nationals. Meanwhile, refugees from Myanmar are starting to flow toward Thailand and India.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If refugee crisis is expected, you have to expect a COVID 19 crisis along with refugee crisis.

I. WATSON (voice-over): As one doctor in Myanmar put it, if your neighbor's house is on fire, your own home will soon be in danger -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


HOLMES: Indianapolis, Indiana, reeling from a mass shooting there just two days ago. Coming up, we will show you scenes from a vigil held for the victims and tell you how members of the community are coping.

Also, mass gun violence not just a problem here in America. How other countries are handling the issue. We will take a look at global gun control next.




HOLMES: Mourners came together in Indianapolis on Saturday, remembering the eight lives lost in America's latest episode of gun violence. A vigil was held in a park near the FedEx facility where the mass shooting happened.

Among the lives lost, a retired engineer, looking forward to his 50th wedding anniversary; young women, barely out of high school; and immigrants, seeking the American dream; all of whom, dying in a uniquely American nightmare.

Now four victims were members of Indianapolis' close knit Sikh community. Indiana is home to as many as 10,000 Sikh Americans, according to the advocacy group, the Sikh Coalition. The group's executive director says the FedEx facility where the shooting occurred has a large number of Sikh employees and she spoke about the feelings in her community right now.



SATJEET KAUR, THE SIKH COALITION: We are heartbroken and shattered. Our community is very close and tight-knit, we are honestly no more than 3 degrees of separation from one another and we are all heartbroken and in pain.

I have spent the last 24 hours on calls with community members who lost loved ones. Others who have family members who barely escaped with their lives. Others who have spent the entire day and again today, providing support to (INAUDIBLE) community, as we say.

And these individuals were the backbones of their families and I want to underscore, honestly, they were America's backbone. They were working families.

So as I hear them cry and hold back tears, I just also want to share that this is a feeling that I personally have felt and many others in the community felt after Oak Creek. It is exactly what we feel every time as (INAUDIBLE) is viciously attacked as we continue to fight for our existence and wondering if any place is safe.


HOLMES: Let's take a look now at gun violence in America. In just the last month, at least 45 mass shootings have happened here in the United States. That is according to CNN reporting and an analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, local media and police reports.

Have a look at the map there, that's not even all of them. We couldn't fit them all on, 147 mass shootings occurring just this year.

Let's look at the number of lives lost between 2016 and 2018. An average of more than 39,000 Americans dying of gun violence each year, that is according to Giffords, an organization led by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head by a gunman in 2011.

Giffords also shows America has the weakest gun laws and the most guns, with 393 million more than there are people. Nearly every American will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime.

A majority of the total number of gun deaths are suicides, 60 percent.

But mass shootings are not just a problem here in America.

So how do other countries tackle the issue?

Our CNN correspondents around the world take a look.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in London, where gun controls are some of the strictest in the world. Handguns and automatic weapons are effectively banned. Shotguns and rifles can be held under very tight license.

Deaths from gunfire are relatively low. The year ending March 2019, 33 people were killed, that was three more than the previous year. But mass shootings are exceptionally rare; 1987, 17 people killed; 1996, 18 people killed; 2010, 13 people killed, exceptionally rare.



BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Blake Essig in Tokyo. Here in Japan, gun violence is almost non-existent. Since 2000, gun deaths, each year, have generally been in the double digits. With the homicides involving gun deaths, often in the single digits of this from a country with a population about a third the size of the U.S.

Under Japan's 1958 firearm and swords law, most guns are illegal in the country. And under the law, possession is only allowed if special approval is obtained. And before that can happen, you must pass a background check, explain to police why you need a gun, receive formal instruction and pass the collection of written mental and drug tests.

Of all rare when it comes to mass killings in Japan, those often responsible resort to knives or arson instead of guns.



ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Angus Watson in Sydney, Australia where it's 25 years since the country's worst ever mass shooting forced the Australian government to ban rapid fire rifles and shotguns.

Gun ownership licenses and registrations were also tightened. It took just 12 days for the federal government to act after 35 people were killed and many more injured at Port Arthur, Tasmania, by a man with a military style semi-automatic weapon.

A federally funded gun buyback scheme and surrenders under amnesty saw over a million firearms destroyed the chances of dying by gunshot wound in Australia fell by 50 percent in the years after the ban and gun related suicides dropped by 80 percent.



HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Hadas Gold in Israel where it's not unusual to see soldiers just walking down the street holding large rifles. Because of the national draft, many citizens who are drafted into the military received some sort of firearm training. But obtaining a gun permit as a civilian is not an easy process.

First is a list of preconditions one must meet such as proving why you need the extra security and then there's another list of requirements you have to meet that include getting extra training and even being cleared by a physician to obtain a gun.


GOLD: Gun related deaths in Israel are relatively low per capita compared to the United States. According to the "Ha'aretz" newspaper, in 2019, there were less than 130 gun-related deaths for a population of just over nine million.


HOLMES: For more, let's bring in John J. Donohue, an economist and professor of law at Stanford University.

Professor, appreciate you joining us. So many people, around the world, watch us right now. They ask, why is the U.S. Like this?

Why the love of guns, the protectiveness of so-called gun rights and what seems to, be almost an acceptance of mass shootings as the price to pay?

Why can't the U.S. be like New Zealand, Australia or other countries?

Why can't they?

JOHN J. DONOHUE, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: As you heard, 25 years ago, Australia, in 12 days, responded to a horrific mass shooting. At that moment or in the previous 20 years, Australia had a higher rate of mass shootings in the U.S. But it decided to act decisively.

And the prime minister of Australia, at the time, said that we had two advantages. We didn't have a Second Amendment and we didn't have a domestic gun industry, with enormous power, over the political system. In the U.S., we have both of those.

That has, essentially, been what has been able to block any sort of effective gun control. So now, Australia has virtually no problem of mass shootings and ours is growing at a rapid rate.

HOLMES: To the point you just mentioned, when the Second Amendment was ratified, a militia really was well regulated, there were no AR- 15s, high capacity magazines and so on.

Do you think the current arming levels of the public and the U.S., and the types of weapons, are what the founding fathers envisioned?

DONOHUE: You know, there is no question to me, the founding fathers were men of extraordinary insight and wisdom, who would be appalled at the current interpretation of the Second Amendment that many members of the gun lobby support.

Also, many members of the judiciary support it as well. In California here a federal judge striking down the California ban on high capacity magazine, saying it was inconsistent with the Second Amendment.

Right now, much litigation heading to the Supreme Court, with the hope from the gun lobby, that all of the regulations that are already in place in states like California, will be struck down on Second Amendment Grounds. Really, it makes no sense but it is a global great danger that the country faces right now.

HOLMES: Does makes it easier to get guns. There didn't used to be, of course, an assault weapons ban in the U.S., which lapsed. Recent research, including your own, it's fascinating because it shows, in the decade after the ban was lifted, mass killings and fatalities increased dramatically.

Then, in recent years, as we've seen, mass shooting fatalities, in which assault style rifles were used, have mushroomed.

What's sort of achievable legislative change could get traction in this country?

DONOHUE: You know, something like universal background checks, making everyone who wants to buy a gun, be, at least, identified as not a felon or someone who has a significant mental illness that would bar gun possession. That is something that 90 percent of Americans want but the Republicans in league with the gun lobby has, basically, blocked that at the federal level.

So something that has as strong support as any public policy measure that I'm aware of, on any issue, can't even come to a vote because of Republican opposition on the matter. So it does make it hard to address the other measures, like returning to the assault weapons ban, getting red flag laws into place. And that could make a difference.

HOLMES: Interestingly, when we talk about background checks and the like, most of these mass shooters bought their guns legally. So that sort of makes you wonder about the usefulness of that.

When it comes to politicians -- and your point is on point. After every mass shooting, the same routine begins, thoughts and prayers offered by politicians, who then don't actually do anything.

I just want to play some sound from a Republican congressman, James Comer, on CNN earlier. Let's have a quick listen.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): I know that in countries throughout history that have banned guns like Germany, and many countries in the Asian region, you have situations where the government infringes on the rights of the people. It's the first step in communism. It's the first step in excessive totalitarianism and socialism.



HOLMES: I play that because, obviously it is clearly absurd on its face to say that. But really, that's why nothing happens politically, despite that overwhelming majority of voters wanting those politicians of to act on everything from background checks, to high capacity magazines.

Yet the politicians don't pay a price for that at the polls either.

Why do you think that is?

DONOHUE: It turns out, most Americans would like to see gun control but they are not one issue voters on that question. There is a core of voters who believe in guns so powerfully, they are willing to be one issue voters on that question.

They show up at Republican primaries. So the Republican Party, really, has been disciplined and know that they will be challenged in primaries, if they don't obey the gun lobby. So they have fallen into line. They probably won't voluntarily change until the voters make them change.

HOLMES: We will be talking again in a few weeks, I'm sure. It's just rinse, repeat, redo. Professor Donohue, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

DONOHUE: Good to be with you.

HOLMES: We will take a quick break.




HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

People took the streets of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, for a seventh day on Saturday, protesting the shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop nearly a week ago.

Friday a peaceful march devolved into confrontations and arrests. Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. showed up to show his support. The civil rights figure was engulfed by hugs from community members when he did get there.

A demonstration over Wright's death took place several states away. Here's a rally held in Denver, Colorado, Saturday.

Meanwhile, police across the United States are preparing for the possibility of protests once a verdict is handed down in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Closing arguments are set to begin Monday. CNN's Omar Jimenez takes a look back at what's been an emotional few weeks of testimony.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need a minute?



MCMILLIAN: I'm helpless.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Emotions and expertise.

MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: All of my research is related basically to breathing.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Have defined the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after a week's long jury selection process, the beginning of witness testimony took jurors and the country back to May 25th, 2020.

Some witnesses who were steps away from what happened say they still feel the weight of the decisions they made that day, all these months later.

DARNELIA FRAZIER, WITNESS: It's been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The defense for Chauvin has been hoping to paint jurors a picture of an officer distracted by the perceived threat of a crowd, but doing exactly what he was trained to do.

DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: Had to hold the guy down and he was -- he was -- he was going crazy -- I'm not -- wouldn't go in the back of the --

JIMENEZ (voice-over): As testimony shifted from what happened to the use of force involved when it did.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Is this a trained Minneapolis Police Department defensive tactics technique?


JIMENEZ (voice-over): A witness later called by the defense disagreed and felt it was the right thing to do.

BARRY BRODD, DEFENSE USE OF FORCE EXPERT: I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But maybe the most crucial set of testimony came from medical experts on George Floyd's cause of death, including from a chief medical examiner for Hennepin County.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Have you certified deaths as an overdose where the level of fentanyl was similar to the level of fentanyl in Mr. Floyd?


JIMENEZ (voice-over): The defense claims drug use and George Floyd's medical history are what killed him. Prosecutors argue it was because of Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: There's no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.

TOBIN: A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): But there was one witness jurors never heard from.

CHAUVIN: I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Which means closing arguments for each side are left to tie together the emotions and expertise of the trial for the instinct and interpretation of the jury.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY DISTRICT: If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Omar Jimenez, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, Russian opposition leader

Alexei Navalny getting very sick in prison according to his team. But he's keeping on his hunger strike. We will talk about that next.





HOLMES: The Czech Republic has accused 18 employees of the Russian embassy of being intelligence officers and ordered them to leave the country. Czech officials say they were connected to the explosion of a munitions depot in 2014, which killed two people.

The foreign minister said, his country is in, quote, "a similar situation" as the U.K. was in 2018, when a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury. Russia's foreign ministry calling the expulsions, "tricks from Prague."

Now the press secretary for the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says his health is deteriorating so badly in prison, he is actively dying. Navalny's team is urging supporters to rally for his freedom. But that might become very difficult to do, because officials are trying to label Navalny's groups as extremists. Sam Kiley with the latest.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is real concern among the opposition supporters of Alexei Navalny. He's currently languishing in a Russian penal colony on a hunger strike, that his health may be failing, according to a group of doctors who are supporters of Mr. Navalny.

We have no independent medical information on this. But they are suggesting that he could be suffering soon from renal failure and his heart might come into pressure as he goes into the 18th and 19th day of his hunger strike, demanding greater medical attention.

This all coming while the prosecution authorities here in Moscow have launched an investigation and in an attempt to effectively outlaw his whole movement, saying that they want to designate it as an extremist organization, an organization that would put it in the same bracket as some violent Islamist movements and the Seventh-Day Adventists.

Nonetheless, this is all seen as yet more pressure put on Navalny and his followers as they look forward to the September elections, where they're hoping to take on Vladimir Putin and his supporters.

Of course if they do get designated in this way, it would be very hard for them to continue to campaign or indeed for the media to cover their campaign. But in the short term, the real focus is on the future health of Alexei Navalny. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Vladimir Ashurkov is a Russian dissident and a central council member for the Progress Party. He joins me now from London, where he has asylum.

Thanks so much for your time.

First of all, what do you know about the current state of Navalny's health?

VLADIMIR ASHURKOV, RUSSIAN DISSIDENT: Alexei Navalny today is in the 18th day of his hunger strike. We received results of his tests about two days ago and they show a dangerous level of potassium, which is associated with possible renal failure and heart problems. So we are very concerned about his health.


HOLMES: Sorry, can you give us an insight into why he is continuing his hunger strike if his life is literally at stake?

What would his death achieve?

ASHURKOV: The hunger strike is the last measure that an inmate can apply in this circumstances. It's not something that people do lightly and put their life in danger. All that he requests is that he is given proper medical care with a doctor of his choice.

Especially it is important since his recovery after his poisoning with Novichok nerve agents where recovery (ph) is not really complete.

HOLMES: The Moscow prosecutor's office filed a lawsuit Friday to label Mr. Navalny's anti-corruption foundation and his headquarters "extremist organizations."

What impact is that likely to have on the ability of his team, your team, to operate in Russia?

ASHURKOV: The situation is developing. If the status is confirmed in regard to our organization, then all financial flows will stop to our organization. And our staff and our supporters, our sponsors, may be subject to criminal prosecution.

To put it into the context, our organization has become the premier civil NGO in Russia, fighting against corruption, exposing corrupt officials, exposing corrupt and mismanagement in large state enterprises. And our (INAUDIBLE) has been legal all through -- all from the start since 2012 (ph).


HOLMES: If the worst were to happen and Alexei Navalny were to die, what would be likely to happen in Russia on the street?

What is the level of support for him, especially given the government's ability to restrict what people hear of him and what they can do?

What would happen?

ASHURKOV: We fight for his health daily. We are not ready to entertain this eventuality. I don't think it's appropriate to talk about this right now.

HOLMES: What about his level of support?

What are the plans for rallies and so on?

ASHURKOV: A big event in his support that is planned is a large rally. We are gathering 500,000 signatures, people who are ready to take to the streets. These 500,000 would be a march that is a larger number than the maximum that was achieved in mass protests in Russia of 200,000, that took to the streets in January when Navalny returned from Germany and was unlawfully incarcerated.

Now we are at 450,000, so not much is left.

HOLMES: That is a huge number. So many suspicious deaths and poisonings and malign things happening when it comes to critics of Vladimir Putin.

I'm just curious, so you concerned about your own safety, even though you are in London?

ASHURKOV: My heart goes out to my colleagues in Russia, who are under constant pressure and now with the threat of criminal prosecution. And the person who worked with us was just sentenced to two years in penal colony for innocuous tweets. And living in London, I feel much safer, so it's not at the comparable level of danger as in Russia.

HOLMES: And just quickly, to put things into context, what do you think Vladimir Putin is afraid of when it comes to Alexei Navalny?

ASHURKOV: Navalny has emerged as the most prominent opposition leader. He is exposing big corruption, political corruption of the current government. He is a person, without him, capable of bringing people out into the streets. That undermines the ability of Vladimir Putin.

And Navalny channels the discontent of Russian people with how our country is governed. If Navalny dies in prison, the label of killer that has been applied to Putin by President Biden, Navalny's death will be something that the whole world will seize on. And after that, this label of killer would not be easy to take off from Putin.

HOLMES: Vladimir Ashurkov, thank you so much for joining us from London.

All right, coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, the Philippines bracing for a super typhoon, the strongest one ever recorded in the month of April. We'll have the latest with Derek Van Dam.




HOLMES: News of a U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan, renewing fears of the fate of foreigners held there. CNN's Kylie Atwood with more from the State Department.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: The families of Americans, wrongly detained in Russia and Afghanistan, are concerned about the consequences that President Biden's foreign policy announcements could have on their loved ones and trying to get them home to the United States.

The sister of Mark Frerichs (ph) says that the U.S. will have zero leverage after the U.S. troops leave. President Biden announcing that will happen on September 11th of this year and that is because her brother is believed to be held by the Haqqani Network, which has ties to the Taliban.

When U.S. troops leave, which is exactly with the Taliban wants, they will no longer be willing to sit down with the U.S. and potentially negotiate to get her brother home.

Then when it comes to Russia, there are two Americans held there, Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan. I want to read to a statement from Trevor Reed's family spokesperson, after the Biden administration rolled out sanctions and a number of other measures against Russia this week.

He said, quote, "The family is concerned that hostilities could be taken out on Trevor or that it will prolong the ordeal," essentially, worried that these new sanctions could have a negative impact on getting Trevor home.

The same is true for all other Americans who are being held in Afghanistan and Russia right now. These families, this week, were really concerned -- Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


HOLMES: The first super typhoon of the season, breaking records as it approaches the Philippines. Typhoon Surigae has winds topping 280 kilometers an hour, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. A signal 2 alert, issued for parts of the eastern Philippines. So be aware in that part of the world.


HOLMES: Some of the biggest names in entertainment are joining together for another Global Citizen virtual concert in May. This time, the goal is to raise awareness on the COVID vaccine. CNN's Lynda Kinkade talks with one cofounder of Global Citizen on what they hope to achieve.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jennifer Lopez, the Foo Fighters and Selina Gomez are just a few of the big names coming together in a concert to reunite the world.

Their aim?

To get COVID-19 vaccines to everyone, in every corner of the globe.



KINKADE (voice-over): Last year's One World: Together at Home concert, hosted by Lady Gaga --


KINKADE (voice-over): -- was enough to raise funds to support frontline workers.


KINKADE (voice-over): I mean, talk about big names. Elton John there performing. He certainly tapped into some incredible support from celebrities. That concert raised almost $130 million to assist with the pandemic efforts.

What are you hoping to achieve this time?

HUGH EVANS, CEO, GLOBAL CITIZEN: Firstly, I should say, yes, Lady Gaga and everyone who curated One World: Together at Home did an extraordinary job. It raised $127.9 million and I'm pleased to tell your viewers today that 100 percent of that money has been deployed, to provide front line community health workers with personal protective equipment.

So today, we are thrilled to announce VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World. It's a first of its kind global broadcast, really focused on calling on world leaders and other business communities to urgently support vaccine equity but also to encourage vaccine uptake.

KINKADE (voice-over): This year's VAX LIVE concert is set to be held in a stadium in Los Angeles.


KINKADE (voice-over): Global Citizen cofounder Hugh Evans says the concert will encourage donations to help provide vaccines to health care workers in the poorest countries.

EVANS: There are so many nations on the planet that haven't received a single dose. KINKADE (voice-over): According to the Duke Global Health Innovation

Center, most wealthy countries have procured far more vaccines than what they'll need. Here in the United States, there's enough for almost four doses per person. In Canada, they bought enough for almost nine doses per person.

EVANS: I would just encourage those nations that are on track to vaccinate the majority of their populations to immediately donating those excess doses. here in the U.S. by June, the U.S. alone will have 45 million excess doses, just sitting in warehouses.

There are 27 million front line health care workers around the world, doctors and nurses, the true heroes of this pandemic. Let's give it to them.

KINKADE (voice-over): VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World, is set to happen on May 8th in California -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Thank you for spending part of your day with me, I am Michael Holmes, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter, @HolmesCNN. Please do. Robyn Curnow will be back with more news in about an hour. "TOMORROW TRANSFORM" starts after the short break. I'll see you tomorrow.