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Russia's Mega Missile; Turmoil Around Trump; Heart Breaking Choices. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 1, 2018 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:20] BECKY ANDERSON, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Russia's president tout the new super missile while he says it is capable of leaving NATO's

defenses useless. This out of time when relations with U.S. are worse than they had been in decades. We are live for you in Moscow for the details

about. Plus, Trump White House in turmoil a trusted aide exit while others grapple with tact's and controversy of what this all means. This is just

ahead. Also.




ANDERSON: An exclusive look of what drives thousands of people to risk enslavement and abused to reach Europe, we return for what life is like

from one migrant to escape Libya, but it still trap in grinding poverty at home.

Hello and welcome. You are watching "Connect the World." I am Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi where it is just off the 7:00 in the evening. Rape,

beatings and slavery these are horrors as many people around the world face every single day and they have only become more pervasive since the trail

of human migration picked up. CNN's freedom project has been working to expose modern-day slavery for some years now. Nima Elbagir at the

forefront of our award-winning reporting she recently caught up with a young man who was rescued from slavery, but he is back to square one.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In this city in Nigeria is the trafficking capital of the country. It is one of the

traffic from departure point in the whole continent were tens of thousands of the young people men and women head off for that dream of Europe. It is

also where tens of thousands of them are return to with that dream shut and today we are listening to one of those returnee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No water, no food.

ELBAGIR: (Inaudible) who is lying on the floor in the Libya detention center just rescued from slavery begging to be sent back home. Now he is

back in Nigeria, but has he found his happy ending?

How do you feel coming back here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am happy that I didn't lose my life. I am back home now so I can also take another step so I am happy.

EASTON: He is responsible for his mother and three younger siblings and his mother says she's too embarrassed to show her face on camera, too

embarrass that her family was desperate enough to her son risk everything to try and make his way to Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also have the children to take care of so just to see what I can do for myself. Even where I am working now, if I get three

thousand Naira a day have to split it to three. The money is not even enough to feed us. When I got to work I don't even eat. If I eat from

that money there will be nothing left for me. Maybe if I want to eat dinner, maybe once. That should be in the evening. So that is just it, if

I was to come here and eat with when there is no much food to ea. So I just have to face everything on my own. So let me see what I can do for

myself. So I am happy to work even though the pay is not good.

ELBAGIR: He is homeless afraid to burden his mother with his presence. Their lives now is worst since his return from Libya, but doesn't mean he

is giving up.

[10:05:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: be everything I do is because of them. I believe that I have to be somebody tomorrow. Things will go well. Just

move on with my life, that it.

ELBAGIR: After we interviewed you in Libya, a lot of people say that they felt you are a hero. Having survive what you survive. Do you feel like a



ELBAGIR: How many more like him will attempt the journey to Europe? Thousands, maybe tens of thousands many returning to a poverty they say is

even more dehumanizing than the horrors they face in Libya. He is convince hat his will be a happy ending. Like he did in Libya people again find the

strength to survive.


ANDERSON: Nima is with us now from London. An incredible piece of reporting there and quite a story this young man you know who like so many

is labeled an economic migrant, but is that trade economic migrant tool reflective of what is his grinding poverty people like Victory are trying

to escape.

ELBAGIR: There is a real cynicism Becky in the way that word is bandied about especially by leaders here in Europe who are under pressure to

staunch migration to European shores, that when you see what these people are migrating from you realize how existential this is from the -- even the

house that we are filming him in, they were that purely because of a family friend was so concerned about the state of his family that he allowed them

to that the free, but at any point in time that subject to eviction this is just a horrifying situation and Victory said something which really stuck

in my head he said the poverty here is as dehumanizing as what I went through in Libya and for that to be the balance to stay here and feel that

I can never achieve anything will be in Libya and risk my life with just deprivation beyond I think any of us can imagine and yet he is still

hopeful this is an extraordinary, extraordinary young man and we was so great that he was willing to talk to us again.

ANDERSON: In what he said Nima your team -- you and your team where on it at the world television society last night you won askew for the year for

your incredible reporting on the Libyan slave trade last year, I want our viewers just to be reminded of that reporting with his short clips, stand



ELBAGIR: Big strong boys for farm work, he said. The numbers roll in this men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece. One by one men are force

down as the bidding begins. And they kept bringing out.


ANDERSON: Our reporting make the headlines around the world with lots of promises made that things would change in the end that has anything


ELBAGIR: Unfortunately is no. As we understand it the militia's those who benefit from the trafficking, benefit from this misery continue to be

active in fact we understand that they are now if this is believable even stronger than ever before so all that will sadly have not translated into

action and not one of the reasons why we have been given the commitment here at CNN to continue to stay on the story until hopefully something

finally does change.

ANDERSON: Nima, congratulations on the award last night you totally deserved it and the team you worked with. Thank you.

A fight to a modern day slavery is an important one, CNN partnering with young people around the world or what is a student lead action March 14

where we ask this very simple question what is freedom mean to you. In the meantime you got a way for you to help trafficking victims like Victory and

others that is has been reporting on just a to our website at and you will find a link to the Red Cross Libya, prices

appeal for example held out that way if you can at Many of those Nigerian migrants fleeing violent as well as poverty and extremist

insurgencies on the way in northern Nigeria and the militant group Boko Haram has captured hundreds of girls during raids on their schools and

villages just last week more than 100 schoolgirls were taken. CNN David McKenzie traveled to the scene of the raid, he joins us now from

(inaudible). I know David shame details.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well that is right Becky. Nigeria is living for this nightmare all over again more than 100 girls taken from a

school and some 8 hours' drive away from where I'm standing, they had been doing this insurgency for nearly 10 years and the emotion and the shock is

very raw in that village that we visited.


MCKENZIE: This young girls in Dapchi escaped abduction but they already lost so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): I have look for her in school, but I couldn't find her since the (inaudible). I try to remember I couldn't get

through. Their sisters have been taken, my sister was sick in bed since (inaudible), I took her medicine but then the gunshots started they took

her right from her bed she says.

The Nigerian military fell back from this town saying it was safe. Just weeks later gunmen storm Dapchi science and technical college in three cars

and a flatbed truck. They wanted to load up as many girls as they could. When the militants storm the school they came in and said to the young

girls come here, you will be safe because they were wearing Nigerian military uniforms that made the girls (inaudible) like this, but some of

the girls told us they noticed they were wearing flip flops on their feet not boots like normal military so they ran. The men attacked at prayer

time many girls within the mosque the barefoot prince storm the sun. The girls escaped over fences into bushes others hid in classrooms.

Boko Haram took 110 say parents and the youngest just 11 years-old. The fathers of missing daughters asking how never again could now happen.

After almost 300 Chibok's schoolgirls were taken four years ago, there helpless to government that says that the scramble jets some choppers to

look, but so far has achieved nothing.

Boko Haram forces girls into becoming sex slaves, straps bombs on their bodies and send them into markets. The girls of Dapchi are too terrified

to go back to school. They are just afraid that if you return they will come back and attack again says Aira. But mostly she is afraid of her

abducted sister. I worry that I lost her for good, she says.


MCKENZIE: Well Becky those girls are just terrified as I said to go to school that school is empty and holocaust cross north east Nigeria are

girls who have such a way to get an education here struggling to find a way to feel safe, Becky.

ANDERSON: David McKenzie on the story for you. David thank you. Well Vladimir Putin says the world hasn't been listening to Russia when it talks

about its military might, but they better listen now, he says. Russians has announced a new weaponry, but he said can render NATO defenses I quote,

completely useless, he says Russia has develop a quote, invincible missile that can deliver a warhead at supersonic speed. Let us get you to Matthew

Chance in Moscow for more. What we are witnessing here is the new arms race between Moscow and the West potentially. Just how concern should we


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I mean look I am not sure to that, but we are witnessing the context of his speech was

that in just 17 days for now, Vladimir Putin is going to go in for reelection, he wants to put himself across as a strong military leader and

he has been spurred on by specific military successes in the middle east particularly the Syria, but these weapons that he spoke about, I mean they

got people thinking of very least some of them are all quite astonishing in terms of the technology he described. He spoke about Russia developing a

new ICBM, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, new warheads that can't be intercepted by antimissile systems and missiles that can reach almost any

points in the world. Russia he said tested a nuclear powered missile at the end of 2017 he also said the Russia was testing underwater drones that

were capable of carrying a nuclear payload that much of this may be some of it at least maybe exaggerations for the weapons experts to tell us about

that, but the political context again is that Putin is trying to send a message not just to his domestic audience, but to the rest of the world as

well and the West in particular that his country is back as a nuclear and military power, take a listen.


[10:15:24] VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential of the world, but nobody listen to us,

listen now.


CHANCE: Listen now, that was the harsh warning coming from Vladimir Putin as he announce this strategic weapons but also spoke to his domestic

audience and people listening around the world, Becky.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance Moscow for you. While the Russian president boast, up next the American president fuming, why? Because someone he

attacked defended himself that is life in the Trump era it seems details up next.


ANDERSON: Hello I am Becky Anderson, welcome back to our show Connect the World it is just after 7:00 p.m. here in Abu Dhabi, 20 past just after

10:20 or nearly in Washington the world's most powerful city where for the last 48 blistering hours it's been nothing short of out mouth chaos in the

White House. Let's wrap up everything you need to know right now. The West Wing losing hope literally one of the American president most valued

confidant Hope Hicks working out as been so called secondary of everything, there is nothing good in yet another huge accusation ask you again Jared

Kushner is working for America or his own family business, all the while Mr. Trump fighting with his own attorney general again in public again it

turns out a special investigation may be keeping an eye on that. For all along each one of those surely days of headlines any president in is the

Trump era personal list to the side for because just last night, Mr. Trump, trump it all, all by himself stunning members of his own party now wanting

big changes to gun control.

[10:20:15] Have a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified and your bill, what are you

doing about the 18 to 21?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to change that.

TRUMP: OK. Are you going to lead that? Because you are afraid of the NRA.

Now this is not a popular thing to say in terms of the NRA, but I am saying it anyway. It doesn't make sense I had to wait till I am 21 to get a hand

gun but I can get these weapon like 18. I don't know. I like taking the guns early. Take the guns first go to due process second. If you are a

concealed carrier you will never get it passed.


ANDERSON: Remember the NRA is a powerful lobbying group in America it'll take a President and lawmakers teaming up to take it on it has a lot of

money and it likes to spend convincing Congress and it has a lot of members in like to vote so on this campaign trail you know who turned up.


TRUMP: You have a true friend and champion in the White House no longer will federal agencies becoming after law abiding gun owners.


ANDERSON: The heads spinning it -- one man can help has bring all of this together none other than Stephen Collinson of course he knows all of this

at the back of his hand and reckon there is a sense of a quote president see here, Stephen in the house for you tonight from D.C. itself and you

might want to argue any port in a storm sure metaphor -- hope is gone give us a sense of what is going on at the west wing right now.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: All right. Becky as you rightly says this the administration is no stranger to chaos but I

don't think it's ever seen more like it's flying off the roads completely the house last 48 hours in addition to things you mention we have the whole

issue of Jared Kushner the president son-in-law losing his top secret security clearance, reports of foreign nations believe that he could be

manipulated because of his inexperience in his business ties. We are having as you mentioned that the presence of war with his own attorney

general in public undercurrents would be stopping in any other administration which has been festering for months and of course we have

this new challenge of Vladimir Putin so it seems to me that he acted overseas on looking at this chaos that's unfolding in Washington and seeing

how they can exploit. And the guns video that you showed there was particularly interesting, because it showed a president coming on more than

his own party pretty much repudiated every single Republican principle on guns. This is a man who said Hillary Clinton would have repudiated the

second amendment. He told his own Vice President in that meeting. Vice President Mike Pence that we should just take guns away and then do work

out the law later, so this is -- it is completely unprecedented even in the in the crazy you know the form of the Trump administration.

ANDERSON: Yet well you certainly like to shake things up we know Stephen this news is just breaking another major American retailer Krueger joining

Dick's sporting goods and the biggest of them all Wal-Mart all stopping -- selling guns it seems to younger people, people younger than 21 along with

some other restrictions one week three major stores in all political America seems to be bickering and is corporate America stating to where the

pocket is going so to speak.

COLLINSON: Yes, I think you are right. What we are seeing even though Washington seems like it's stuck in the normal dogma about gun policy you

are seeing these big companies reacting to public opinion their thinking that the market is dictating to them and they have to change their attitude

on guns I think very much that is a tribute to the activism of the survivors of the Florida gun massacre who managed to shift this arguments

in ways that has not been possible after you know the many previous mass shootings in the United States. You are also seeing at the state level and

the city level low forms of government you seeing a shift in the way politics is dealing with this whole issue of guns, there is a sense in some

places not all that you know it's time to change policy if ever there is going to be a change of federal gun laws in really significant things

happen, I think it will come from a bottom-up Washington is often the last place to get the message you know when there's a big political change in

the country I'm thinking especially all the gay marriage issue which was moving on a state-level for many years before it got to the federal level.

[10:25:20] So there is this gap between the vacuum of leadership in Washington and that was happening on the ground in some places.

ANDERSON: A million times the world looks on and some of dog, some quite like what is going on in Washington and some parts of the world you like

but a disruption I guess that the secretary of everything it seems may not be the heart of everything going forward that seat with was only a few days

ago that he lost his top secret clearance a huge deal in itself and now Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner facing this reporting from the New

York Times that his family's business empire got some half $1 billion in loans after he met with the bank executives inside the White House. As

source Stephen as you know telling CNN that Kushner is worried quote, everyone is out to get him that justified?

COLLINSON: Well it certainly seems to many lines of attack are coming towards Kushner right now he's had a terrible week and is difficult to

express how close he is to the president a special month form policy for each deals with the Middle East peace process he was instrumental relations

with China with Mexico with the Gulf states and this report in new York Times another outstanding example of the scandals of the house battering

the White House from every single direction We also know that Jared Kushner is in the target lines of the special counsel Robert Mueller who

seems to be getting closer and closer to the Trump family and the White House.

Just only the mechanics of his job as a (inaudible) policy official you know it's unbelievable that you can carry on having lost his top secret

security clearance which means he wouldn't be able to access the latest intelligence site before he goes into a meeting with another foreign leader

and the fact that other countries try to manipulate him has also been recorded. It seems to make his position completely untenable as the

president's inner circle's apprentice.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Stephen thank you. Seeing right here when Donald Trump took a small role in the Home Alone movie that was at the Plaza Hotel

in New York, well (inaudible) will be the star of his own Home Alone setups soon 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. arguing after the firings and departures he's

finding himself as an isolated leader of the free world. All that and an awful lot more at

Just ahead we will take a closer look of Hope Hicks means for President Trump a loyal confidant one source calls his last emotional crutch that

after this. [10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Just after half past 7:00 UAE. You are watching CNN. This is Connect the World and from our Middle Eastern hub, I

am Becky Anderson.

A brutal cold snap causing travel chaos across parts of Europe with subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall -- a red warning has been issued for parts

of England and Wales, the first of those areas in more than five years.

Officials say, if you don't need to travel, then don't. Well, the extreme cold dubbed the beast from the East. It has forced trained stations to

close and airlines to cancel flights, Geneva airport in Switzerland has been shutdown due to the winter weather and that is an airport that can

keep going through most weather conditions.

CNN producer Salma Abdelaziz joins us now in the U.K. from Paddington Station in London, that minutes ago has partially opened, what though has

been impact on those travelers that are trying to get in and out in London. And with the office extending its red weather warnings, could things get

worse before they get better?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Hello, Becky, from a really cold and snowy London, it is exactly as you said. It is expected to get worse before it

gets better.

That beast from the east that you are talking about, those winds that swept in the past few days across Europe and the U.K., and of course this cause

have now been met by another weather phenomenon and that is a storm coming up from the Atlantic.

Those two together are suppose to combine to make 48 hours of what will be in extreme weather conditions according to meteorologists. That means 50

mile-per-hour to 60 mile-per-hour winds and that means a lot of snowfall.

Up to 50 centimeters, that is 20 inches in some parts of England, here at Paddington Station where we are, we have already seen these weather

conditions cause a partial closure today.

We know that snow was falling through the roof causing the platforms to ice. That is part of the reason for the closure. And we spoke to some

commuters this morning about the difficulties they were facing. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just went straight from Hanoi, Vietnam to Heathrow this morning, and I tried to get to Heathrow to Paddington and it took me

two hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am coming from Vienna, so we had minus 13 in the morning, everything running perfectly. We are more used to the weather

conditions there, and here, probably more exception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I suppose to go to work (Inaudible). But the train is arriving in the next half an hour or so. I seem to get use to it in Euro



ABDELAZIZ: As you can hear there, Becky, some people coming all they way from across the world just to face these conditions here. And as we said,

it is only going to get worse.

It is not just the trains that aren't running on time but as you mentioned, the airports were hearing of course a delays and cancellations for flight.

[10:35:03] Roads and much of the country have been closed. Some commuters reporting up to 13 hours waiting in traffic and officials are concerned

also about gas. They had issued a gas deficiency warning.

What this mean is that signal suppliers to increase the gas supply to meet the demands on the country for people trying to keep their warmth -- their

homes warm during this rather. But the most important warning is stay home, if you don't have to go outside, stay inside, stay safe, Becky.

ANDERSON: We talked about this getting worse before it gets better, any indication from the meteorologist at this point as to how long this beast

from the east and this storm will last.

ABDELAZIZ: Well, at this time, Becky, what they are predicting is 48 hours. So that's through the day stay and through the day tomorrow that we

are going to see the worst of it.

But what people are really concerned about is two main things here, with the great snowfall that's falling and these very cold conditions, we are

talking about the possibility of freezing rain. We are talking about the possibility of black ice on the road.

That means more closures and until things get warmer and we have to remember, the U.K. does not see this kind of weather commonly. So they are

not equipped to melt the roads.

They are not equipped to make sure the runways are clear enough in some parts of the country to make sure all of the planes can run on time.

So really it is about what's going to happen overnight with these blizzard- like conditions with 50 mile-per-hour to 60 mile-per-hour winds and with these tens of centimeters of expected snowfall in the next few hours.


ANDERSON: Salma is outside Paddington Station. I'm going to let you go and get warm. Salma Abdelaziz there in West London. I am back now to the

revolving door at the White House in Washington.

We have seen many aids come a go as the Trump administration faces crisis after crisis but the abrupt news that Hope Hicks is leaving. Here is a

blow like no other, many say. Donald Trump's communications director has been a pillar of support for the president.

One source describing her as Mr. Trump's last emotional crotch, her departure that could leave the president feeling increasingly isolated as

the Russia investigation picks up steam.

Let's get some perspective now from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. Last emotional crotch is how Hope Hicks was described.

And as the impact of her leaving the White House, many people across the world, well, simply not know who she is, how she got to be in that position

and why it is that she has now quit. Brian.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, she was the former model who was working in a PR firm, been working for Ivanka Trump and one day, Donald

Trump essentially tapped here on the shoulders and said, you are going to help me run my campaign.

This all happened months before Donald Trump entered the GOP primary race. So that means Hope Hicks was there, not just in the beginning but early --

even earlier on the match.

He was there while Trump was planning his run when nobody believed he was even going to a run for president. And she was one of the only women in

his inner circle even as the campaign launched and Corey Lewandowski manage the campaign, Hope Hicks has had this really key role as a confidant of

President Trump, as a facilitator, as a gatekeeper.

She's had many different roles, even though officially, she was a press aide and then White House communications director. You know, you think

about Hope Hicks, there are a lot of mysterious things about her.

The combination of her good looks, her cheery demeanor, her press shyness, all of it makes her a subject of gossip and intrigue. There are liberals

out in the United States who, Hope, that somehow she is this like kind of secret and bad in the White House that's going to save the country from


You know, it was given rise all these theories because she never actually speaks on cameras. She never gives TV interviews. She's actually never

given a television interview. And yet she's always been by the president's side.

So to see her all of a sudden decide to resign, she will be leaving in the coming weeks, it is certainly a shock for the White House and another

source of mystery about what her role has been and why she was so critical of the president.

ANDERSON: The man who was communications director before Hope Hicks says there is no way to sugar coat it. Her departure he says is a huge loss.

Let's have a listen.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Right, he is a big departure in the sense that this is one of the president's closest

friends, aide, loyalist, somebody that understands the heartbeat of the president, understands his personality and also is -- she's incredibly good

at guiding people. And I will tell you this about, Hope, I mean, Whit House is a rough place. We both know that.

[10:40:00] There is not a malicious bone in, Hope's, body. I mean, she's just a wonderful person, always trying to do the right thing, cares about

everybody, not interested in the conflict, not interested in the ego rob, and the international bashing that I have experienced or other people have

experienced. On the plus side, people -- she is big loss for the president.


ANDERSON: Anthony Scaramucci there -- the Mooch, as many of our viewers will know him and many of our viewers will have heard of the Mooch. His

rehab -- his is rehabilitation it seems after 10 days of infamy as communications director, to some is an interesting position. Is he on his

way back and if so, what were the consequences be? Is it significant at this point?

STELTER: There are other elements in that interview that sure seem to be a job interview and audition for President Trump. There's been speculations

that Scaramucci could end up back in the White House partly because President Trump does have a shrinking inner circle and fewer people he can


We can put a graphic on screen the shows I think some of -- some of the effects of the recent months, the number of departures that we've seen in

the past year. They've been really close to President Trump -- Keith Schiller and Steve Bannon, and now Hope Hicks.

If you are you are someone who worries about the president's temperament, worries about his ability to govern, maybe even worried about his

stability, then the departure of someone like Hope Hicks is a reason to worry more because she was someone who was facilitating things for him, who

was someone, you know, that could talk him down in certain cases in fits of anger and things like that.

And from a media perspective, Hope Hicks was arranging interviews, she was encouraging more press access, in a White House that a very strained

relationship with the American media, she was an advocate in some cases for a healthier, stronger relationship.

So I wonder now that she's leaving, is the relationship between the president and the press will deteriorate even further. That depends on

who's appointed the new communications director but look, we both know President Trump ultimately has his own communications director.

He makes his own decisions about whether to give interviews, who to talk with, whether the whole press conferences and he continues to play by his

own rules mostly speaking when questions are shouted out in informal settings, not holding formal interviews of press conferences and mostly

just speaking to supporters through Fox News.

ANDERSON: Brian Stelter is in the house for you tonight out of New York. Thank you, sir.

STELTER: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Live from Abu Dhabi, you are watching Connect the World. Coming up, in a spotlight, the Italians prepare to vote to their former prime

minister, defined the odds and grabbing the headlines once again.


ANDERSON: Quarter to 8:00 in the UAE, welcome back. You are watching Connect the World.

[10:45:01] I am Becky Anderson. For you just joining us, you are more than welcome. He is the king of come back. Italy's former Prime Minister

Silvio Berlusconi has seen his political career pronounce dead several times.

He has been laid low by sex scandals and allegations of corruption and for now, he can't run for office. But even so, as Italians go to the polls on

Sunday, he is back in the spotlight. CNN's Ben Wedeman with this report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rested, tanned and ready to get back in the fray, thrice prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi

is back -- an octogenarian with an advancing hairline, a weakness for beautiful women and a checkered political past.

At 81, Silvio Berlusconi, you might think, would be ready to withdraw from public life but even though he's barred by law, because of a previous tax

conviction, from running for office, he's very much part of this election.

He is still the undisputed leader of his party, the center-right Forza Italia, which has formed a campaign coalition with the rabidly anti-migrant

Lega or the League and the neo-fascist Fratelli d'Italia, the Brothers of Italy. It now represents the largest political bloc in the general

election due to take place on March 4th.

ALAN FRIEDMAN, BIOGRAPHER: Berlusconi will make a deal with the devil as long as he gets to make -- stage his comeback, look on the economy out...

WEDEMAN: Berlusconi's American biographer, Alan Friedman, recalls an Italian leader pursued by scandal.

FRIEDMAN: During all his years in government, Silvio Berlusconi was always distracted by 65 lawsuits and trials against him, criminal trials,

accusations of corruption, accusations of money laundering, accusations of tax fraud, and so he spent more time worrying about his own future than

about the future of his country.

WEDEMAN: Yet he commands a loyal base with an approval rating of almost 25 percent. In Italy's fractured political landscape, that's considered high.

"He's an entrepreneur," says Hossam (ph), an Italian citizen originally from Lebanon. "He wants to cut taxes for businesses. I'd vote for him."

One-fourth of Italians may support him, the other three-fourths despise him. "Berlusconi's really a thief," says Laura, studying to become an

aerospace engineer. "He says one thing and does the opposite."

The ban on Berlusconi holding public office expires next year, which means if his coalition wins in next Sunday's vote, he could be Italy's once and

future prime minister. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


ANDERSON: You are watching Connect the World. I am Becky Anderson. Coming up, a Russian model offers to expose secrets on alleged links

between Moscow and the Trump campaign. What she is asking for in return, is up next.


ANDERSON: All right, 10 to 8:00 in the evening here in the UAE. Welcome back. And a few minutes ago -- I will review this with you -- a self-

proclaimed Russian seductress offering to share information of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Now it is hard to tell if she is a scam artist trying to get out jail or has genuine information. But one is for certain, she did spends time with

some high profile Russians. He is Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She promotes herself endlessly on social media as Nastya Rybka, the kind of self-styled Russian sex guru

who'll supposedly teach you the art of seduction for a fee, of course.

NASTYA RYBKA, RUSSIAN SEDUCTRESS (through a translator): Even if we're interacting with men who are famous actors, lawmakers, oligarchs,

scientists, very few of these men when they interact with a woman discuss high-brow topics with them. If you want to seduce a man like that, he

needs to be hooked by his basic sexual instinct.

CHANCE: Amid snaps and titillating videos of her frolicking on yachts and exotic beaches, she brags of liaisons with billionaires -- and one

billionaire in particular.

These are the images that have thrust Nastya Rybka into the kind of spotlight she didn't expect. It shows her relaxing on a boat with two men.

One of them is Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia's richest men, the other a senior Russian official, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

Russia's main opposition leader sees on the images as evidence of official corruption, also suggesting the two men who could be heard discussing U.S.-

Russia relations may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Prikhodko has refused to comment on the allegations. Deripaska has dismissed it as a story far from any truth. In a statement to CNN, his

spokesperson said he is suing Rybka and her business partner because they, quote, maliciously made his private photos and personal information public.

Mr. Deripaska, it's Matthew Chance from CNN. It's not the first time the Russian oligarch known to be close to the Kremlin has fended off

allegations of collusion.

CNN confronted him last year after it was revealed Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who once worked for Deripaska offered him private

briefings. Deripaska told CNN, he never received any communication about it.

Didn't you give millions of dollars? But it was after the promise of more detail, more information from Nastya Rybka who was holding one of her sex

and seduction classes on this beach in Thailand that this extraordinary story appears to have a taken a spine novel turn.

She was arrested by Thai police for violating the terms of her tourist visa, managing to record this quick tantalizing message aimed at the

American media that she was driven away.

RYBKA (through a translator): I'm ready to give you all the missing pieces of the puzzle, support them with videos and audio regarding the connections

of our respected lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest. I know a lot. I'm waiting for your offers in a Thai prison.

CHANCE: They're probably just the words of a desperate woman hoping to avoid deportation to Russia. But her promise with no evidence so far to

unlock the mysteries of the Trump-Russia scandal have certainly got Nastya Rybka the attention she so often craved. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: All right, just time for your Parting Shots to see the streets of London asleep soundly on a blanket of freezing white wonder. The London

is watching over the scenes. The beast from the east as it is called, left behind not carnage, but a carnival of brilliant scenes.

[10:55:00] The swans that all white, dressed appropriately for the occasion, other animals bearing up under the snowy weather too here -- a

bear treats himself to some ice cols snacks at the Chester Zoo or these dream like drone images over (Inaudible), the stunning part of the country,

up more for England cattle grazing (ph) and bear trees standing tall in the snow.

And makes you -- certainly makes you a great cup of hot chocolate, doesn't it? Well, here is an idea, snuggle up with your laptop and check out our

Facebook page, that is

And please don't forget to leave us a comment of a photo with hastag My Freedom Day on what freedom means to you. That is an incredibly important

project. We will be involved in March 14th across the say and we really hope that you will be involved, too.

If you are a student, I implore you to get involved. I am Becky Anderson and that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. We will leave you

with these winter wonderland scenes with Eatern Europe. Good-bye.