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Please Don't Film The Bear

Noon local time (8 a.m. GMT)

I took a minibus out of town this morning. Obviously we had to pass a Russian checkpoint on our way out of Poti, and that's when we all witnessed the following scene: Armed Russian soldiers had come out onto the highway and were scuffling with a small group of TV journalists. There were two reporters and two cameramen, together with their drivers. I saw Adjara TV's logo, so one group was from that regional television station. The others were foreigners, I think, although I didn't see their logo and can't say for sure. One of the cameramen was holding a tripod in his hands, and the soldiers were trying to take it from him.

I don't know whether those television stations will be reporting about this incident -- but all the passengers on the minivan saw it. For a moment, a number of passengers feared that the soldiers were going to stop our minibus, but I guess they were too involved in the fracas and let us pass.

The journalists were there to film the checkpoint, I suspect, and it was pretty clear that the soldiers didn't want to let them do so. As the Russians said some two weeks ago, when they detained some AP reporters and destroyed their equipment, the same thing would happen to anyone who tried to film them. So I guess they're making good on their threat.

Their military equipment -- cars and armored vehicles -- remains mobilized; I saw piles of sandbags, too. Excavators weren't working as we passed by, but the trenches are dug. It was a rainy morning in Poti, and many of the Russian troops simply watched the incident with those reporters from inside their tent.

On another note, Economic Development Minister Eka Sharashidze arrived to Poti today. The arrival took place much earlier than expected -- instead of midday, she came early in the morning. The minister and her colleagues went to observe how the delivery of the humanitarian aid from the "USS Mount Whitney" was being handled.