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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/4/22

Guests: Maryan Zablotskyy, Whitney Leaming, Rob Lee, Alexey Kovalyov, Alexander Prokhorenko


MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Hey, good evening, Chris.

I was fascinated by that conversation. I have been following the cultural and sports impact of what is happening to Russia very closely. As you probably know, I`m a huge soccer fan. And this year, UEFA has already stripped the Champions League from St. Petersburg, which is, obviously, Vladimir Putin`s birthplace. So, that`s a big stinger for him.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Yeah, and I also wonder how much, you know, the soccer, particularly, which is a point of such obsession, and shared across the world on so many cultures. It brings people together. The Russian people being told like you are being kicked out of these bodies lands like something is going on, maybe more than what they are told through state media.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, and you know that, definitely, personally bothered somebody like Vladimir Putin who relishes being on the world stage.

HAYES: Yeah.

MOHYELDIN: Chris, thank you so much, my friend. It`s good to see you.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Lots to get to. Very, very busy night, but I do want to start tonight overseas, but in the city of Prague. That is the capital of the Czech Republic. I want you to take in both the size, and the sound of this crowd, in Prague, tonight.




MOHYELDIN: This absolutely massive crowd, this crowd of tens of thousands. Gathering in Prague, tonight, to watch a speech. Not by their leader, but by Ukraine`s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian president`s address was beamed to multiple European cities. As I mentioned, this was Prague.

This was Tbilisi, the capital of the nation of Georgia. Of course, Russia`s invasion of Ukraine reminds all of us, and strikes and particularly raw nerve in Georgia, which had its own experience with a Russian invasion back in 2008.

So, thousands of Georgians, tonight, turned out this evening in support of Ukraine.

The speech was also broadcast to a crowd in Frankfurt, Germany, where Germans waved Ukrainian flags, and cheered Zelenskyy on.

In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, people gathered in front of the Russian embassy there, to declare their support for Ukraine, and its president.

I want to play for you a bit of what President Zelenskyy had to say, not just to the people who are watching this around the world, but to the crowds who gathered to hear him speak across Europe.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): To the people of Europe, we call upon you to not be silent. I would like you to come out onto the streets, and support Ukraine, support our efforts, and support our fight because if Ukraine will not stand, Europe will not stand.


MOHYELDIN: All right. So, he continued by saying, if we will fall, you will fall.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, speaking from an undisclosed location in Kyiv tonight, in a separate speech later this evening, an angry Zelenskyy blasted NATO for not instituting a no-fly zone over his country.


ZELENSKYY (translated): All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you. Because of your weakness, because of your disunity.


MOHYELDIN: Speaking today in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while acknowledging that the suffering in Ukraine is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better, once again, batting down the idea of a NATO imposed no fly zone.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The only way to, actually, implement something like a no fly zone is to send NATO planes into Ukrainian airspace, and to shoot down Russian planes. That could lead to a full- fledged war. And Europe, President Biden has been clear, that we are not going to get into a war with Russia.


MOHYELDIN: But as the war in Ukraine now enters its second week, the stakes keep getting higher, and higher. As we saw yesterday, the Ukrainian nuclear power plant that was shelled by Russia, while we were on the, air last night. The largest nuclear plant in Europe has now been fully taken over by Russian forces. The fire caused by the shelling was put out. The international atomic energy agency says it normal patients at the plant are continuing, and no security, or safety systems, are compromised.

But the head of the company that runs the plants is that the station management is now working at gunpoint -- effectively, as hostages.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, spoke about the dangers of a nuclear situation today. Watch.



LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: By the grace of God, the world, narrowly, averted to a nuclear catastrophe last night. It was incredibly reckless, and dangerous. It threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine, and Europe. The United States remains highly concerned that Russian military forces, controlling the Chernobyl site, have not permitted operators there to have a shift change, since last week.

This is highly irresponsible behavior, and causes grave concerns for continued, safe, operation, of both sides. Mr. Putin stopped this madness. And he must stop it now. Russian forces are now 20 miles, and closing, from Ukraine`s second largest nuclear facility. So, this imminent danger continues.


MOHYELDIN: So, as Russian forces there, we are seeing, capture more territory, particularly in the south of Ukraine, there is growing concern about where this goes. After taking the port of Kherson, Russian forces appear to try to consolidate control of the cities that are along the Black Sea. They are currently advancing on the town of Mykolaiv, and Ukrainian authorities are warning of a planned amphibious assault on the major city of Odessa.

To the east, closer to the Russian border, Mariupol is now surrounded, and under heavy shelling, with the mayor of the city saying electricity has been cut off.

Meanwhile, in areas around the capital of Kyiv, they are increasingly being hard hit. This is the destruction caused by Russian air raid on a village, just 37 miles southwest of Kyiv. It is apocalyptic.

And this is the immediate aftermath of an attack 80 miles northwest of the capital, even as a miles-long convoy of Russian forces remain stalled, north of Kyiv, the fighting, and the destruction is inching closer to the capital, minute by minute.

Joining us now from Western Ukraine is Ukrainian member of parliament, Maryan Zablotskyy.

Mr. Zablotskyy, thank you so much for being with us this evening. I greatly appreciate it given the circumstances that you`re under. We know that Russian forces are making their way to Kyiv. What concerns you the most about what may happen in the coming days?

MARYAN ZABLOTSKYY, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Well, what concerns me is the fate of civilians, as those tens of thousands of people, still, in Kyiv. Russians will choose indiscriminate fire towards the city, instead of advances on the ground.

So, we see that their morale of Russian soldiers is quite low, and the monthly salary is just $500 per month. Most of them, when we capture them, they tell us that they are just training exercises, and then suddenly, they were told to attack Ukraine. Most of them do not understand why.

While our soldiers have strong, high morale. They have families to protect, and that is why we`ve captured Russian soldiers en masse.

MOHYELDIN: I know we`ve seen people evacuating Kyiv. Can you describe for us what the situation is like for me humanitarian perspective, right now, in the city of Kyiv? I know people are making their way out. Has there been stepped up efforts to get people out of cities like Kyiv, and elsewhere, that are sustaining heavy shelling. What is happening to those staying behind?

ZABLOTSKYY: Kyiv is one of the biggest cities in Europe, and is one of the locations to put 8 million. Most of the city is evacuated, but there are many of people trapped, especially in places where Russian forces, very quickly, and where there are airborne divisions. When we look at that, it will definitely continue to worse. But, you also have to point out that Ukraine is -- it will happen around the world, because Ukraine is one of the world leading grain exporters. You will see food prices spiking all around the world.

MOHYELDIN: I want to ask you about what is happening with NATO today. Your president, President Zelenskyy, gave a very impassioned speech. He`s been quite clear. He is calling for NATO to impose a no fly zone and tonight he was very critical that NATO refused to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. NATO secretary general said that could escalate the conflict, and as we hear from American military officials, it could bring American military and European military in direct confrontation with Russian aircraft in the skies above your country.

Can I get your reaction to this response? Both to the call out former president, and the response from NATO, that it will not participate in a no fly zone.

ZABLOTSKYY: This is the moment like -- in history, like, it was in 1938 or 1939 when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and later Poland.


This will get out. We think that Putin lost his mind, and he will definitely try to attack one of the NATO countries in the future. Plus, I think that currently, the U.S. (ph), there is a very high responsive state sponsored terrorist from Russia. So, regrettably, I think one year or another, U.S. will be at direct threat or confrontation with Russia at some point, because Putin has just completely lost his mind and he`s completely irrational.

So, we ask to do it better quickly now, and to stop him. That is the language that bully understands.

MOHYELDIN: So, just to be clear, your assessment is that you think the conflict that is happening in Ukraine this evening will, in fact, widen beyond your country, to engulf the United States and Europe?

ZABLOTSKYY: Almost certainly. Putin is already laying territorial claim to Baltic States. He`s hinting on that. Just today, he said that he will help Belarus with their projects in the Baltics Sea. Belarus has no access to the Baltics Sea. It`s a direct hint that he will try to attack Baltic countries with the future, the NATO members.

MOHYELDIN: And I`ve got to ask you, really quickly if I can about last night`s developments with the nuclear plant in Enerhodar. Do have any updates on that? What do you know what is currently going on inside of the plant with the workers there that are reportedly working basically under Russian control of the plant?

ZABLOTSKYY: It`s dangerous. The risk of nuclear accident, a major nuclear accident, that could poison the whole world is very high because Russia could send its most brutal, and least educated Chechen fighters towards control in nuclear plant. So, our workers there continue to function at gunpoint. Of course, those fighters that Russia sent are not nuclear scientists and accidents happen, even in nuclear scientists` hands (INAUDIBLE).

In peaceful times, this is extremely dangerous. I think with this sort of management, (INAUDIBLE) can actually face a major nuclear accident.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, it`s extremely troubling and, of course, given the situation, it is so difficult to get independent formation from out there to know exactly who was there, and what they were doing inside the plant.

Ukrainian member of parliament, member Maryan Zablotskyy, Mr. Zablotskyy, again, thank you so much for joining us with your time. We appreciate your time. Please be safe.

We have been watching this conflict from the start, thanks to the work of brave journalists on the ground, all over Ukraine. They have captured things like ordinary citizens, learning how to make Molotov cocktails in the capital city of Kyiv, days after Russia launched its invasion.

The video journalist whose work you just saw there is Whitney Leaming, from "The Washington Post". She has been traveling south through Ukraine from Kharkiv to Dnipro, to Odessa, reporting on this war as it unfolds in real time.

Tonight, she joins us from the port city of Odessa in southwestern Ukraine, where people spent today filling of sandbags and gather supplies, as they await what is being described as an imminent assault from Russian forces.

Ms. Leaming, thank you for being here. I know it is late your time. Thanks for staying up for us.

I know people in Odessa are hunkering down before this invasion. Can you describe for us what you have seen and what you have heard tonight?


You know, we arrived in Odessa early afternoon, local time. And this is the third largest city in Ukraine. And yet, the streets are not, exactly, deserted. But, there are very few people out, and about. Most people are working to fortify the city and then prepare for what could be an assault coming from three sides.

MOHYELDIN: I understand that you`ve been having some blackouts tonight. Any idea what is causing them? Is it an indication of something that maybe getting under the way, and what`s causing the disruption?

LEAMING: We are not having power blackouts. I think the confusion is that the cities under blackouts, they are locking down with light coming from the outside, making it difficult to see the city center, and where people are throughout the city. So, we are under light restrictions.

MOHYELDIN: No, I appreciate you clarifying that. It was a major concern for city officials there.

Let`s talk about your paper for a moment. "The Washington Post" reported that the city is preparing, as you just said as well, amid unverified reports that a large fleet of Russian warships was heading towards the waters off of the coast. Could you just expand a little more on what you are saying? Have you heard anything about this from people you`ve been speaking to on the ground and perhaps even officials that they are anticipating this? What is that is based on?

LEAMING: There have been reports of ships off of the coast, we haven`t seen movement, or heard of movement from official sources over the past two days.


So, we`re not sure what exactly is going on. But, assaults like these are very difficult, and take time. That time is allowing the city to prepare, and we`re being told that the beaches are, completely, mined. You can see when you come into the city, hedgehogs, made to slow down, or stop tanks, and other types of vehicles, all around the city, basically, just trying to help slow down any forces, while the citizens prepare.

MOHYELDIN: I understand, before you arrived in Odessa, you were in the eastern cities of Dnipro and Uman. What were you saying is you moved westward? Could you describe for us that journey? Are there are checkpoints on the highways? Was there bombardment?

Did you see a sea of people trying to escape smaller towns, and perhaps villages, on your roof?

LEAMING: Yes, absolutely. So, we made the trip from Dnipro to Uman, in one day, it should`ve been a six hour car drive. But it took over 12 hours. You are seeing extremely long lines, of evacuees.

Many of these people have homemade signs, posted on their car, there`s children on them. Trying to let officials know that there are kids in the car. There are many checkpoints you have to go through,, some of these, controlled by the military and city and town police. Others are controlled by volunteer militia, who don`t have plenty of training, and our, justifiably, very jumpy.

So people are doing whatever they can to protect themselves. Some of these checkpoints take hours, and hours to get through. We made it into Uman, actually, after curfew, because of being stuck for hours in long lines to get to the checkpoints.

Also, you will see huge caravans of families, heading west. You will see very few cars coming back out east, and almost all of those cars are filled with, what looks to be, single men. Our assumption, and from the few people we talk to, is that people are driving their families towards safety, and then returning home, to protect their neighborhoods.

MOHYELDIN: Absolutely incredible reporting, and incredible images.

"Washington Post" video journalist, Whitney Leaming, in Odessa for us, this evening. Whitney, thank you so much for your time. Please stay safe to you, and all of your colleagues. Thank you.

We have a lot more ahead tonight on a day when the Russian government tries to shut down any press that does not toe the government line. And we will talk live with a Russian journalist who refuses to stop reporting.

We`re going to have that and much more ahead. Stay with us.



MOHYELDIN: This is a 3,500-ton frigate. That was the flagship vessel of Ukraine`s relatively small navy, until it was sunk not by Russian forces actually but by Ukraine itself. The ship had been docked for repairs in the ports city of Mykolaiv and on the Black Sea coast when the war broke out last week. And the captain of the ship actually feared that those repairs would not be finished in time to prevent the crown jewel of Ukraine`s navy from falling into Russian hands. He did not want to take that risk.

So he basically carried out orders to sink the ship. Ukraine`s defense minister described the captains predicting it this way, saying, it is hard to imagine a more difficult decision for a courageous man and his crew, but we will build a new fleet.

Russian forces are waging as we heard an all out assault across the southern region of Ukraine, which is the only region of Ukraine that actually has access to the sea. Kherson, the first Ukrainian city to be captured by Russian forces is quickly running out of medical supplies. Mariupol also in the southern part of the country has been under siege cut off from access to the water, power, food supplies. Now, it`s going on for days.

In the southern city of Odessa where we just got that live report, the population there is actually getting ready to mount a defensive of their city after unverified reports suggesting a fleet of Washington warships heading into their direction. That is the situation right now in southern Ukraine.

But the assault by Putin`s army in the northern part of the country while horrifying in its own right, is actually moving much, much lower. A 40-mile convoy of Russian troops remain stalled outside the capital city of Kyiv. And despite the hellish shelling that the capital and Kharkiv that we have seen night after night, some U.S. officials are actually reportedly surprised by the risk averse or protests that Russia has taken with its vast air power against Ukraine`s much smaller air force.

As one retired three-star Air Force general told "Reuters", the Russians are discovering that coordinating multi domain operations is not easy, and that they are not as good as they presume they were.

What should we expect to see in the coming days is Putin continues his siege against the people of Ukraine.

Joining us now for more on that, Rob Lee, former Marine Corps infantry officer and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Rob, it`s good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Let`s assess this. What do you think it is that Russian forces -- you know, they are doing better in the south it seems and they are in the north. I`m curious to get your thoughts on why that might be. And is that a sign of Russia and its offensive capabilities in the south? Or a sign of better Ukrainian forces and posture in the north?


So, I think it`s a combination of things. But I think one of them is that Ukrainian forces decided -- what whatever is to they have to defend and what areas can they trade, you know, time for space.


And so, I think that`s with the doing in the south. You get a very good briefing of what`s going on. Ultimately, they`re continuing to advance towards the south, ports of Mykolaiv, they took the city of Enerhodar yesterday, where the nuclear plant is, pushing towards Zaporizhzhia. And, obviously, Mariupol is still surrounded in the southeast.

But as we`ve seen in the last few days, have the big cities in the northeast have not fallen. So, Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and obviously Kyiv. Ukrainian forces are still holding those.

Essentially from now, it`s difficult for Ukraine`s military to fight a conventional fight with Russian military. But western cities, it negates a lot of the strength for Russian military and I think that`s what their strategy that`s been going on.

MOHYELDIN: Do you have a sense of how at this current moment the Ukrainian military is managing its supply lines? I mean, what happens to Ukraine`s military if Russia does manage to cut off their access to the sea? We know that the U.S. and western countries are trying to resupply various Ukrainian positions. Do we know if that`s happening by airlift, by land route, by sea?

LEE: So, I`m not sure. And one thing that`s going to (INAUDIBLE) there`s much more information on what`s Russia`s doing that there is with Ukraine military. And there`s a variety of reasons for that. But as long as the Western border of Ukraine is open to these NATO members, ultimately, NATO can continue to supply.

So, even if I think the naval access is cut off, that land border will still be very significant. And ultimately Russian -- there`s no easy way to cut them off in the time being in that the land force aren`t near it. In addition, Ukrainians air defenses are still capable. Their air force is still operating. And so, Russia can`t still operate with impunity in western Ukraine because it kind of interdicts NATO`s floodlights.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, and that brings up a really interesting questioning about the airspace above Ukraine. I mean, I have seen the Russian military operate in Syria. I think it tip the balance in that fight between the Syrians and the opposition.

But Ukraine`s airspace, as you said, remains contested. And I think it has a lot of people scratching their heads. Why do you think we are not seeing even more aggression from Russia`s much larger and presumably at one point a pretty sophisticated air force?

LEE: So, it`s still very surprising. I think at this point we, have to kind of look at the capabilities of the Russian air force and start questioning whether or not they`re capable of doing certain operations that the U.S. Air Force is capable of. And it`s pretty clear they are, right?

So, their ability to suppress by destroying the air defenses has struggled to do so, they struggle to knock out the Ukrainian force. The Ukrainian air force continues to wreck havoc on their supply lines including with those TB2 combat aerial vehicles. And so, it appears that Russian air force is having difficulties here, and I think one of the important things, remember, in previous conflicts in 2014, 2015, the Russian air force didn`t play much role in Donbas mostly because of (INAUDIDBLE) for Russia.

In Syria, it has played a key role but they haven`t gone against a capable air defense system, right? And so it`s basically been operating with relative impunity for most of these areas, and then just working on target processes. But right now this operation is much, much more complex. It`s much larger. And you have much larger Russian ground forces on the ground that need aerial support.

And so all those factors are making it more difficult for Russian air force is to be as effective as I thought they would be. And that`s really kind of surprising lesson from this war so far.

MOHYELDIN: Absolutely fascinating insight. Rob Lee, former Marine Corps infantry officer and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Greatly appreciate your time today, sir. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin has been winning at least one battle so far in this war and it is a battle against his own people. One of the journalists who are trying to continue reporting the truth no matter what the Russian government says is going to join us live, next.



MOHYELDIN: This is Alexandra. She is 25 years old. She lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine. And today, she actually spoke to the BBC about her mother. Her mother actually lives in Moscow, Russia, and she was telling the BBC, her own mother did not believe her, when she said her city, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, was being shelled by Russian forces.

She said, I didn`t want to scare my parents, but I started to tell, them directly, that civilians and children are dying. And her parents, to her surprise, responded by saying, the Russian army would never target civilians. That it`s Ukrainians were killing their own people.

And to her shock, Alexandra says her mother just repeated the narrative of what she heard on Russian state TV. Russian state media, of course, has sought to obscure the reality of what is happening in Ukraine.

There are no reports of missiles hitting residential district. There`s no coverage of Russian casualties, but the ongoing protests taking place inside of Russia. In fact, yesterday, Russia`s last independent radio station, Echo Moscow, was shut down, and Russia`s last independent TV station, TV Rain, broadcasters final news.

This morning, Russian block sites of Russian language Western media like Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and of course, the BBC. All while the audience for the BBC`s Russian language, new site alone, reached 10.5 million people last week alone, more than triple its usual average.

Now, today, Russia went even further, blocking access to both Facebook, and Twitter. An this morning, the Russian Duma, their parliament, made it illegal, and punishable, by 15 years in prison to report anything that the Russian government deems to be false information about the war in Ukraine.

Oh, by the way, Russia does not call it a war, and neither can the reporters there. They are calling it a special military operation.

So, all of the news that you see coming out of Russia has to come from the government itself. The BBC announced today that this law basically left them no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of BBC News journalists, and their support staff, within the Russian Federation. Other outlets started following suit. So, while we have had footage to show of some of the more than 8,000 anti-war protesters that have been arrested in Russia, that kind of reporting, that kind of journalism, just became a lot more risky. In fact, it is now punishable.

And this crackdown comes as imprisoned Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is calling for more mass protests, inside of Russia, and around the world this coming Sunday.

Today, four major Russian independent news outlets, including the Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper whose editor just won the Nobel Peace prize, last year, decided that this new law, actually, made it impossible for them to report on the war, truthfully, without their reporters being thrown in prison. So, now, they are reporting on it at all.

The independent new site, "Meduza", was also blocked by the Russian government today, but they have experienced working around the Russian government, because "Meduza" has always reported on Russia, in Russian, but they have done it from Latvia, outside of Russia`s borders, to stay as independent as possible. So, even though they were blocked inside of Russia, they have not stopped reporting.

Joining us now from Latvia is Alexey Kovalyov, the investigations editor at "Meduza".

Mr. Kovalyov, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I greatly appreciate your time.

Let`s start with the development today. Now that the Russian government has blocked her website in Russia, how do you expect, how do you plan on getting your news, your information, your reporting, accessible to people inside of Russia?

ALEXEY KOVALYOV, MEDUZA INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR: Morning, Ayman, and thank you for having me.

Well, we have been waiting for this. We have been anticipating this for quite some time. So, we have been educating our audience, and our followers, to use a different means of circumventing these bans. Over the past few years, Russians have become quite adept at using VPNs and proxies, because more and more, huge swaths of Russians, are becoming accessible to Russians for carpet bans, of sorts.

So, yeah, we had some contingency plans, and we are continuing to broadcast on our app, Telegram channel, and hopefully, we can recover some of our website audience as well. As more and more people adopt VPNs, proxies, and all kinds of different anti-Internet blockage devices.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, incredible defiance on your part. I`m curious to get your thoughts on what will this media crack, and that we have seen, intensify, on independent media, inside to mean for the war in Ukraine? Do you think that it will have any impact to what Russia has done today on the information flow?

KOVALYOV: Well, it`s crucial that Russian public understands what`s going on. This was the motivation behind such an unprecedented assault in the country. I don`t think any president in Russia`s history, even in the Soviet times. But, you know, what you said it earlier about that BBC report, it`s actual real, and it`s happening in many Russian families, too, because like many Russian families, mine also has relatives in Ukraine. Different parts of my family, my wife`s family, where we all have Ukrainian relatives.

And it`s happening all across the spectrum, that Ukrainian relatives are saying, look, your army is bombing our cities, the Russian relatives are saying, that`s not true because they told us, on the television, that the Russian army is not bombing any civilian infrastructure. It is only striking military targets. And that`s it.

It`s just so hard to convince people, because it`s hard enough that to make a simple mistake, but you are actually asking them to admit complicity and war crimes, so which their television, which is on for most of the time in most Russian households, has been telling them nonstop that this simply not happening, that it couldn`t be happening just because.


KOVALYOV: It`s pretty hard to challenge that narrative. And that`s what we`re doing.

MOHYELDIN: I`m curious to see if you could talk about how the European media is covering this. I mean, from our vantage point, obviously, we have our teams in Ukraine and we`re covering it. But this is obviously a conflict, a war that has implicated all of Europe.


And I was speaking to a member of the German media earlier today that said this is a much more emotional components to it than what European media has been used to before. Have you noticed a shift, or change, in the way European media outlets has covered this particular war?

KOVALYOV: Well, to be honest, I`m not spending much time watching Western coverage because we are to immersed in our own, right now. We have people on the ground, collecting information from Ukrainians. So, we are trying to get information from firsthand sources.

So, I probably couldn`t tell you exactly how it differs. But, this time, and with previous conflicts but, yeah, I`ve seen some pretty solid coverage that is, you know, doing its best to educate the audiences abroad.

MOHYELDIN: So, let me ask you then and go back to the point they were talking about, for some of the stories, or anecdotes, you are hearing from Russian family members being told about what`s happening inside of Ukraine but Ukrainian family members. How does one approach trying to de-program the chunk of the Russian population that fully believes that state TV tells them? How can we, and your news organization, combat that level of misinformation?

KOVALYOV: Well, I`ll be honest this is -- this looks like an insurmountable problem because there is simply -- it`s simply the economies of scale. Dozens of millions of people are tuned into Russian TV, and fewer and fewer are going to YouTube (ph), have access to independent media, like ours, but it`s not -- doesn`t mean that we aren`t ceasing to do our jobs, because, if not for now, it is for the historical record because, you know, as I said before, my job is now basically documenting my country`s war crimes, or any future international (INAUDIBLE).

So, yeah, we are doing as much as we can to convince people, to educate people about what`s going on now, and I think we`ve made some progress, and we are now sharing links to Meduza and other few remaining independent media, news websites in Russia, you know, like secret pamphlets, because what we have now, it`s as close as we get to martial law, with the old civil liberties and free press suspended.

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, the information space in Russia continues to shrink by the day.

Alexey Kovalyov, sir, thank you so much to you, and your entire staff. You are in the investigations editor at the Russian language news site, Meduza. Greatly appreciate the work all of you are doing. Thank you for your time tonight.

This past week, Rachel, and our team here, have been periodically checking in on a man named Alexander Prokhorenko. He has been sheltered in Kyiv after, unsuccessfully, trying to leave the city. Up next, he joins us live from Kyiv, tonight.

Stay with us.



MOHYELDIN: It is not the first day we tried. Look at this crowd. You will never get on, you can see it clearly.

That`s just one Kyiv resident, out of thousands, who tried to catch a train out of Kyiv today, after a series of explosions rocked the capital. This is what it looked like, today, as vast crowds of residents swarmed the main train station, hoping to head west, and out of the country, knowing that Russian troops, our only miles outside of their city. Women, children, kids, the elderly, lining up on platforms, pushing their way onto trains, that do not have any room for anyone, or everyone.

People were saying tearful goodbyes to loved ones, who managed to find a spot, and that is what it was like in Kyiv today. Panic. Panic, and the impulse to move west, immediately, out of harm`s way.

And while some make it out, and many others have had to stay put. We first spoke to one Kyiv resident, named Alexander Prokhorenko last Friday. Then we checked in on him, again, on Monday.

He is a restaurant owner in the city, and Alexander, and his family, want to totally four days. They have been unable to do so. They were unable to get enough gas to drive the distance, and the train stations are no longer guaranteed to take them. So, he, his family, and neighbors, have hunkered down in Kyiv, like many others.

Alexander told us, she managed to pick up some weapons that the Ukrainian government have been offering to citizens, and he, and his neighbors, have been teaching themselves how to use them. He told us, they have been using food from his restaurant to supply meals for children, hospitals, and even help the Ukrainian army.

But, things, as you can imagine, in the second week as it gets started, are getting more dire by the day. On Monday, Alexander told us, quote, this is our land, we don`t want to run away, because this is where we belong to. This is our homeland. This is Ukraine. This is Kyiv.

And since then, he has continued to shelter in this building`s underground garage with family and neighbors, and they`ve been traveling by foot, and carved throughout Kyiv, through to find basic stables like diapers, and food for his family.

Joining us once again tonight is Kyiv resident and restaurant owner, Alexander Prokhorenko.

Alexander, thank you so much. We are grateful for your time. We`re continuing to wish you and your family and everyone else that you`re with complete safety.

I know it`s early morning time in Kyiv right now. How was it in Kyiv yesterday? What is the mood there where you are?

ALEXANDER PROKHORENKO, KYIV RESIDENT: Hello. Basically, the mood is the same. It`s a ninth day since the war started. It`s pretty much silent in Kyiv.

But, according to the news, for example, we woke up yesterday, and have heard that the nuclear plant was missiled by the Russian army, and was overtaken by the Russian army.


So, I have seen a lot of stories on Instagram of people to live there, and if it was so afraid of nuclear explosion, that it is not a problem of Ukraine, it`s a problem for the whole world.


PROKHORENKO: But yesterday, I was traveling around the city, I`m volunteering, I was helping out with taking people to the central station, since it`s just the only way out from the city, and volunteering, yeah. But, the city looks like a ghost city. It`s --

MOHYELDIN: Yeah, I can`t imagine what you`re going through right now, with the millions of people there.

On Monday, you said, at that point, you did not want to leave Kyiv. Do you still feel that way, waking up today? Have you changed your mind about your family, and trying to get them out?

PROKHORENKO: Not at all, not at all. I think, you know, the army needs us. The people need us. It`s a total support, it`s like our president, he never left. Every time, his last message was, I`m here, I`m with you, and we should not be afraid.

I would say, we shouldn`t be afraid, because this is the only way to live now. It is your choice. You either leave with fear or to stay here, and to support by all means you can. I can support with volunteering. For example, yesterday, I had like I believe 15 points of what to do for the day, and the morning. I had to pick up some women with kids, I had to get them to the buses, then I had to pick up a woman from the hospital after her surgery, and then also take her to her house, and to her family.

So, then, I need to get food and, then bring it to the army post. So, basically, I`m just doing what I can. As I`ve said before, this is our land, this is Ukraine, and I still don`t want to leave. I want to be here, with my people, with my family, with everybody.

MOHYELDIN: It`s incredible resilience, and defiance on your part, and certainly inspiring. I know the last time you were on the show, you told Rachel, you are worried about access to basic supplies like food, and water, and necessities for your children. Have things worsened, or improved in that regard, since you told us that?

PROKHORENKO: You know, in that time, I have never been to a supermarket because I have friends from the restaurant business, and we do, really, really, support with making some dinners for the army. This is where we get food, basically.

But still, it is a mess. People are standing in long queues in the supermarkets, we have -- basically, we are running out of medicine, out of drugs, and the food supply is low. Yeah.

MOHYELDIN: Alexander Prokhorenko, Kyiv resident, and restaurant owner -- sir, thank you so much for your time, as I said at the top of the segment. I pray for you, and your safety, and that of your family. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

PROKHORENKO: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

MOHYELDIN: Still ahead, Russian oligarchs are trying to out-run sanctions on their multimillion dollar super yachts. At least two have gotten caught so far. We`re going to tell you about a heroic act of sabotage, next.



MOHYELDIN: All right. Her name is Lady Anastasia. She`s a $7 million super yacht owned by a Russian arms tycoon and the chief executive of Russia state-owned defense conglomerate that exports weapon. And right now, that yacht is docked on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean.

And a lot -- a yacht like this, I should note, needs a lot of care, a lot of maintenance. They usually have a full-time staff. And in the case of Lady Anastasia, a mechanic.

The mechanic for Lady Anastasia is this guy, 55-year-old engineer from the Ukraine named Taras Ostapchuk. Over the weekend, that mechanic says that he saw a video of a rocket attack on this presidential building in Kyiv where he is from. And he says that when he was watching that video, something clicked, something changed, and he remember that his boss is not only Russian but is in fact that he is a Russian arms dealer.

The mechanic says he believes the missile he saw in that video was the same type of missile manufactured and sold by his boss. So the mechanic allegedly marched onto the engine room of the super yacht and opened up several valves that were supposed to stay shut which partially sank the Lady Anastasia. And that Ukrainian mechanic was arrested, brought to court in Mallorca, for allegedly trying to sink the Russian man`s yacht.

He told a judge, quote, they were attacking innocents and I don`t regret anything I`ve done and I would do it again. That mechanic has since been released from custody and he tells us he is now back in Ukraine. He is on a waitlist to be issued a weapon so he can join the fight himself.

The mechanic felt -- left custody for Ukraine, left Spain, got there are so he could help defend his country. That`s him in this photo alongside his compatriots, an act of heroic sabotage.

That does it for us tonight. I will see you again tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern on my show, "AYMAN".


Good evening, Lawrence.