December 22nd, 2013
08:46 AM ET

CNN Amanpour: Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks out

For the first time since his release, Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky is telling the world about the 10 years he spent behind bars as a critic of the Kremlin.  The oil magnate, who backed an opposition party, had been in prison since 2003 and was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion and fraud. He was due for release next year, but President Vladimir Putin signed an amnesty decree for him Friday.
In his first television interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the former Yukos oil tycoon said there were no conditions for his release.  "Mr. Putin, on a number of times, publicly said that he was ready to consider the question of my pardoning - but I had to say I was guilty for that," Khodorkovsky said during the interview in Berlin. "That was an unacceptable condition for me."
Russia has faced international criticism for its treatment of Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man. Countries such as the United States have accused Russia of selective prosecution and abuse of the legal system.
Khodorkovsky made a fortune in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union and used the wealth of his Yukos oil company to enter Russian opposition politics.  He has said his prosecution was part of a Kremlin campaign to destroy him and take control of the company he built from privatization deals of the 1990s.
While in prison, Khodorkovsky said he was stabbed in the face.  "When I was stabbed with a knife I was lucky - he tried to get to my eye but he got my nose,"he said. "As a result, the dentist who was there - someone who was also a plastic surgeon - carried out an operation on me, which means it was virtually not noticeable."
Putin's decision to pardon Khodorkovsky - who was supposed to be released next August - is seen by many as an effort to improve the country's image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
Officials say he was released on humanitarian grounds because his mother is ill.  When asked whether he forgives Putin, the former political rival replied, "I would put it differently, perhaps. I don't think that revenge would be any rational behavior. And something that is rational behavior I can always deal with."

Topics: CNN
December 19th, 2013
04:53 PM ET

Amanpour exclusive: Billie Jean King to gay Russians: ‘You are not alone’

In an exclusive interview, tennis legend Billie Jean King told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour she “thrilled” to represent the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  “I'm very proud to go as an athlete, and as a gay woman,” she said. “I'm thrilled.”

Asked by Amanpour if there will be any protests, King said “Maybe we should wave rainbow flags or something, I don’t know,” she said, drawing an analogy to the Black Power salute – a raised fist – given by two American athletes at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. She added “As long as we’re not being malicious, we can show our feelings.”

President Obama named the former tennis champion, who is gay, to the American delegation at the Olympics earlier this week.  The President himself will not attend the Games – the first time in more than a decade that an American president has not done so.

King said if the anti-gay law was the reason for the President’s non-attendance he should “go ahead and say it,” but added – with tongue in cheek – that he was “sending a ‘King’ instead of a president.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a press conference Thursday, knocked down criticism over the law as “Western values.”

Full interview

Preview : CNN International Programme Information Weeks 1,2 & 3
A lively performance of electro-chaabi, the genre-bending musical form which has risen to huge popularity in Egypt (Inside the Middle East)
December 19th, 2013
12:26 PM ET

Preview : CNN International Programme Information Weeks 1,2 & 3

Inside the Middle East

Influential Cairo-based artist Ahmed Al attar

Influential Cairo-based artist Ahmed Al attar

Wednesday 8 January at 1030 GMT / 1130 CET and 1730 GMT / 1830 CET
Saturday 11 January at 0630 GMT / 0730 CET and 1930 GMT / 2030 CET
Sunday 12 January at 1330 GMT / 1430 CET
Saturday 18 January at 1330 GMT / 1430 CET
Sunday 19 January at 0530 GMT / 0630 CET and 1930 GMT / 2030 CET
Duration: 30 Minutes

Topics: CNN • CNNI Press Releases
December 19th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

CNN Special Report: Extraordinary People with Anderson Cooper and Robin Meade airs tonight at 10pm ET on CNN

CNN Special Report: Extraordinary People An hour special with Anderson Cooper and Robin Meade looking back on who was truly extraordinary in 2013. LaDonna Cob, a teacher assistant from Oklahoma who risked her life during a deadly tornado. Carlos Arredondo, an immigrant from Costa Rica who helped save a life after  terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon. A New Yorker, Sergio Consuegra stepped into someone else’s fight with a group of New York bikers. Zach Sobiach, a teenager battling cancer who sang his way into our hearts with a poignant song about his death. And Antoniette Tuff, a bookkeeper at a suburban Atlanta school whose unshakable faith and the power of love turned a school shooting around.

CNN Special Report: Extraordinary People airs tonight at 10pm ET on CNN

CNN Tech publishes the final installment of innovation series
December 18th, 2013
12:26 PM ET

CNN Tech publishes the final installment of innovation series

CNN Tech caps off its four-part series on innovation in tech by releasing The CNN 10: Ideas list. This list honors 10 emerging ideas in technology and related fields, which include big potential to change the world: to make us healthier, to keep us safer on the highways, to protect the coastline during storms, to help our computers think for themselves, to literally reinvent the wheel.

Many of these ideas are already gaining traction and some are still in the idea stage. But all are sparking dialogue among thought leaders in their fields.

For more information about the individual lists and/or the series in general, follow @cnntech on Twitter or use the hashtag #10ideas. The series was developed and compiled by senior producer Brandon Griggs and writer/producers Doug Gross and Heather Kelly, with assistance from Todd Leopold and Jose Pagliery. It is also available on desktop and mobile and in the Tech section of the CNN mobile apps for iPhone and iPad.

The first three parts of the innovation series:

Topics: CNN Digital • CNN Tech • CNNMoney • Social Media
December 18th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

CNN AMANPOUR: First Guantanamo commander calls for prison to be closed

U.S. Major General Michael Lehnert (retired), first commander of the Guantanamo Bay Prison, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he thinks the terrorists were "successful" in changing America, and he wants to see the facility closed.  “The objective of terrorism is to change the nature of their adversary,” he said. “And I would opine that they've been successful. They've changed the way we've acted, they've caused us to walk away from the Constitution, and they've caused us to act as if we were afraid.”  He added  “We need to move forward; we need to say that the Constitution doesn't stop at our water's edge and that we need to close Guantanamo.”

Lehnert was there in the very first days of the Guantanamo Bay Prison; originally, he said, he thought it would be open for only a short time.  “But as I was down there, by about the second month, I realized that we were going to be in for the long haul,” he said. “I also began to recognize that many of the individuals that had been sent to me probably never should have been sent there in the first place.” FULL POST

Topics: CNN
December 17th, 2013
02:20 PM ET

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin Return to Co-Host CNN’s New Year’s Eve Coverage

ACKG2013Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin Return to Co-Host CNN’s New Year’s Eve Coverage

Live from Times Square Beginning at 9 p.m. ET

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin will co-host CNN’s coverage of New Year’s Eve celebrations on Tuesday, Dec. 31, from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. (ET). Back for their 7th consecutive year, Cooper and Griffin will ring in the New Year live from NYC’s Time Square for CNN’s “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.”

About the upcoming show, Cooper said “Wait...what? CNN hired her again? For real?” Kathy Griffin was humble as always, “I’m so thrilled Anderson Cooper has agreed to be my assistant once again as I single-handedly host New Year's Eve on CNN for my global adoring audience.”


Topics: Anderson Cooper
December 17th, 2013
09:50 AM ET

CNN Announces New Strand for Acquired Documentary Films

CNNFilmsPresentsT1March of the Penguins, The Imposter to broadcast on CNN/U.S. in 2014

CNN is creating another destination for extraordinary acquired documentary films in a new brand, “CNN Films Presents,” it was announced today.

CNN Films Presents will be a sister brand to “CNN Films,” which was launched in October 2012, and is the network’s brand for acquired or commissioned documentary features, following their exhibitions in theaters.  All CNN Films Presents broadcasts will be acquired films.  And, the new brand will also be distinguished from CNN Films in that its documentaries will have broadcast windows that are not first-on-television premieres.

The first CNN Films Presents broadcast will be the French nature documentary, MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, produced by Ilann Girard, directed by Luc Jacquet, and stirringly narrated by Academy award-winning actor, Morgan Freeman. Released in 2005, MARCH OF THE PENGUINS received the 2006 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the 2005 Best Documentary award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.  The film will air on CNN/U.S., beginning on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. FULL POST

December 17th, 2013
04:57 AM ET

First Bank is Exclusive Sponsor Of CNN International’s New Series, ‘African Start-Up’

CNN International today announced that First Bank is the exclusive sponsor of a new weekly segment series, ‘African Start-Up’.

First Bank’s integrated campaign runs across TV and digital, including sponsorship of a weekly sponsored segment in ‘Global Exchange’; weekly commercial vignettes; sponsorship of a bi-monthly 30 minute show and sponsorship of the ‘African Start-Up’ microsite, FULL POST

Topics: CNN
December 16th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

HLN Announces Key Hires

HLN announces the following new hires: Keith Brown, SVP, Programming; Kari Kim, VP, Program Development; Adrienne Lopez, Director, Special Projects


HLN executive vice president and general manager Albie Hecht today announced the hiring of the following key programming executives and their new roles: Keith Brown, senior vice president, programming; Kari Kim, vice president, program development; and Adrienne Lopez, director, special projects. All three newly appointed executives will be based in New York.

“Marrying the talented trio of Keith, Kari and Adrienne to the dynamic HLN team creates a powerful force that will no doubt catapult the network’s brand evolution and invigorate programming,” said Hecht.    FULL POST

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