Orson Welles would be proud. A satirical news broadcast announcing a new invasion by Russia caused people across Georgia to panic on Saturday. Though the show opened with a disclaimer that it wasn’t real, it featured a familiar news anchor who appeared to be frazzled by breaking news of fighting in Tiblisi, Russian bombers headed for Georgia airspace, and troops and tanks on their way. A former director for the network that broadcast the show compared it to Welles’s radio adaption of War of the Worlds, which caused Americans to panic that Mars was invading. It was, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophesy, as the report caused cell-phone service to crash, lines at gas stations and a run on food—scenes similar to what the show had described. A Tiblisi taxi driver said “a little chaos” lasted for about three hours, adding that, “If you hear that war started, of course you run for the bank machine, then run home, it’s natural.” Opposition leaders accused President Mikheil Saakashvili of being behind the show, because it depicted their party as collaborating with Russians, thought Saakashvili’s office condemned it for scaring citizens.
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