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Georgia Under Attack

A 2008 Imedi broadcast stating that Georgia's leader Mikheil Saakashvili had been assassinated sent citizens pouring into the streets in a panic.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Russian tanks rolled into former Soviet Georgia in 2008, supposedly to protect the Russian nationals living in South Ossetia, a Georgian province. South Ossetia was home to an antsy separatist movement, and Georgia had sent in troops to maintain control. Not surprisingly, they weren't happy Russia was interfering in their business, and called Russia's actions aggressive and hostile [source: The Telegraph]. A five-day war ensued, with Georgia squaring off against Russia and South Ossetia. The result? Georgia lost control of South Ossetia and an area called Abkhazia [source: Harding].

Less than two years later, Georgians were terrified when the pro-government TV station Imedi interrupted prime-time viewing one Saturday night to report the Russians were back. The station went on to report that Georgia's pro-Western leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, had been assassinated [source: Levy].

Georgians ran out into the streets screaming. The country's cell phone network went down. People ended up in the hospital, suffering from acute stress. One woman reportedly had a heart attack and died. In Russia, state news agency Interfax jumped on the Georgians' announcement, sending out a quick report about the invasion and Saakashvili's death [source: Levy].

Thirty minutes later, former reporter David Cracknell, now a Georgian governmental employee, uncovered the truth: There was no invasion, and Saakashvili was alive. Apparently the fake broadcast was made to simulate what might happen in Georgia if Russia once again did invade and the citizens were so warned. Imedi claimed announcers had noted it was merely a hypothetical scenario before the broadcast, but most viewers didn't pick up on that [source: Harding].

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