New Deputy Head of EUMM supported Russian position during 2008 war

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A citizen of the United Kingdom, Ryan Grist, has been appointed Deputy Head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM). This information is published on the EUMM webpage. Ryan Grist publicly accused the Georgian side of launching military actions in August 2008. During the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008, he held the position of Deputy Head of OSCE Mission in Georgia.

"It was clear to me that the attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation. The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town," Mr. Grist told the New York Times in November 2008.

Ryan Grist declared that Georgian villages did not come under heavy fire from South Ossetian and Russian military units on 7 August, something which was allegedly proved by the OSCE monitors stationed in Tskhinvali too. Terhi Hakala, the Head of OSCE Mission to Georgia at that time, had to deny his comments.

Later Ryan Grist explained that his statement was misinterpreted and that he did not say that there were no provocations by the South Ossetian side before the war broke out. However, according to him, the response from the Georgian authorities was absolutely disproportionate and that it would necessarily be followed by a Russian response.

According to the recount of Mr. Grist, he argued bitterly with the head of the mission, Terhi Hakala, on 11 August 2008, after which he set out in an unarmored OSCE car to Tskhinvali. In Tskhinvali, Mr. Grist met with a human rights defender, Lira Tskhovrebova, whom he referred to as his friend. Tskhovrebova took him to see two "top South Ossetian officials." In December 2008, Lira Tskhovrebova visited the United States and tried to meet with US politicians but without result. As the news agency, Associated Press, found out, Tskhovrebova used the service of highly-paid US lobbying firms, while the Georgian special services handed over to the news agency a secret recording of Tskhovrebova's conversation with Tskhinvali's "security committee," which proved her ties with the special services.

According to the EUMM, before joining the mission, Ryan Grist worked as a Stabilisation Adviser in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and a Programme Manager of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme.

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