RFE/RL has an article by Brian Whitmore which provides yet more evidence that Russia’s invasion of Georgia was a pre-planned affair. He lists numerous signs that Moscow had made elaborate arrangements connected with events of August 7-8, and points to the fact that “Russia’s state-controlled media seemed extremely well-prepared to cover the outbreak of armed conflict in Georgia. Television networks immediately presented elaborate graphics with news anchors and commentators appearing to stick to disciplined talking points accusing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of aggression, and the Georgian armed forces of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” In particular, Whitmore mentions the testimony of a Chechen Reuters photographer:
Said Tsarnayev stumbled into a war.
A Chechen freelance photographer with the Reuters news agency, Tsarnayev arrived in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, during the day on August 7. Traveling together with a colleague, Tsarnayev said he planned to take photographs of the environment and natural surroundings in the area for a project he was working on.
Once in Tskhinvali, he discovered a virtual army of Russian journalists at his hotel.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service, Tsarnayev, a resident of the Chechen capital, Grozny, said the Moscow-based reporters had been sent from various Russian media outlets days earlier, and were preparing to cover something big.
“At the hotel we discovered that there were already 48 Russian journalists there. Together with us, there were 50 people,” Tsarnayev said. “I was the only one representing a foreign news agency. The rest were from Russian media and they arrived three days before we did, as if they knew that something was going to happen. Earlier at the border crossing, we met one man who was taking his wife and children from Tskhinvali.”
Late that night, armed conflict broke out between Russia and Georgia.