Reporters on the Job

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No Foreign Reporters Allowed: Correspondent Fred Weir had a verbal invitation from South Ossetian government officials, who had helped set up interviews for him. But that wasn't enough to get him into the territory now occupied by Russian troops.

"I arrived at the border crossing (on Saturday, Sept. 20) from Russia into South Ossetia, near the Roki Tunnel, in the company of the vice speaker of North Ossetia's parliament," says Fred. "He tried to intercede on my behalf. But I was turned back by Russian border guards, who said I required special permission from Moscow."

"In 22 years of reporting here, nothing like that has ever happened to me," says Fred. "My journalist accreditation and multiple-entry Russian visa normally entitle me to leave the country from any border crossing, at any time. "

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There has been no official explanation for the apparent ban on foreign journalists entering South Ossetia, says Fred.

Some academics and Russian reporters speculate that it's because the Kremlin is furious at the Western coverage of the war and its aftermath.

But Fred was traveling with a Russian assistant, Olga Podolskaya, and they were allowing Russian citizens through. Olga was able to enter South Ossetia and gather the interviews and observations for today's story about who started the Georgia-Russia war in August.

On Wednesday, European Union monitors apparently faced a similar blockade – on the other end of South Ossetia – where it was reported that Russians also man the border posts. The UN monitors are to be allowed into the four-mile buffer zone, which lies entirely in Georgian territory. But Moscow has announced that they will not be granted access to South Ossetia itself.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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