French police on Sunday held a Russian activist and his girlfriend for questioning over sex videos released online that brought down French President Emmanuel Macron’s favored candidate for Paris mayor.
Pyotr Pavlensky has said he leaked the video that forced the centrist ruling party’s Benjamin Griveaux to bow out of the running for mayor in next month’s election.
The artist, who received asylum in France in 2017 after several radical protests in Russia, was arrested on Saturday in connection with a fight at a New Year’s party.
However, on Sunday, police turned their attention to the footage posted online this week showing a man masturbating, coupled with racy text messages sent to a woman.
The videos prompted Griveaux, a married father of three, to abruptly call off his mayoral campaign, a first in France, where politicians have in the past attempted to brush off sex scandals as private matters.
Pavlensky’s French girlfriend, Alexandra de Taddeo, believed to have been the recipient of the videos sent in 2018, has also been arrested on charges of invasion of privacy and publishing images of a sexual nature without consent.
Pavlensky, 35, and De Taddeo, 29, were both being questioned on Sunday at the headquarters of the criminal police in Paris.
On Friday, Pavlensky told reporters that he had posted the footage online to expose the “hypocrisy” of 42-year-old Griveaux and planned to post more material on a newly created “political porn platform.”
Griveaux “is someone who constantly brings up family values, who says he wants to be the mayor of families, and always cites his wife and children as an example, but he is doing the opposite,” Pavlensky told France’s Liberation newspaper.
Griveaux’s lawyer, Richard Malka, hit back on Sunday, accusing “pseudo artists” of giving “morality lessons.”
French media and politicians from across the spectrum have portrayed Griveaux, a former government spokesman, as the victim of a hatchet job.
“Everyone has the right to their secret garden,” French National Assembly Speaker Richard Ferrand told the Journal du Dimanche weekly, echoing a sentiment still widely held nine years after politicians’ morals came under scrutiny in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair.
Griveaux’s fall left Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party scrambling to find a replacement candidate for Paris mayor a month before the vote.
French Minister of Health Agnes Buzyn on Sunday said she would run in Griveaux’s place.
“I’m going for it with the aim of winning,” said Buzyn, who has been leading France’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Macron hailed Buzyn’s “courageous decision” to throw her hat in the ring for the Paris job, his office said.
The president swiftly chose Olivier Veran, a lawmaker and doctor, to replace Buzyn at the health ministry.
Griveaux’s campaign had already been in trouble before the sex tape emerged, dragged down by a rebel candidacy from fellow Macron supporter and star mathematician Cedric Villani.
Recent surveys had placed the official LREM candidate third, behind Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party and conservative candidate Rachida Dati.
HOUSES FLOODED: The ground shook in Tonga as explosions were heard, followed by gushing water and pelting rocks, sending people running to higher ground A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was not apparent with communications still cut off yesterday. The eruption on Saturday was so powerful that it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the US. Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, suffered “significant” damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that there had been no reports of injury or death, but a full assessment was not possible with communication lines down. “The tsunami has
‘ZERO’ STRATEGY: Carrie Lam said the airline faced a probe over its compliance with the rules after an outbreak was traced to air crew who breached quarantine Cathay Pacific is being investigated and faces possible legal action over an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong that began with the airline’s employees, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The revelation came as Lam announced the suspension of all kindergarten and primary schools until after the Lunar New Year early next month. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a “zero COVID” strategy that has largely cut the international finance hub off from the mainland and the rest of the world for the past two years. A recent outbreak traced to Cathay Pacific air crew who breached home quarantine has sparked
PORT CONGESTION: Ships heading for Omicron-affected Dalian and Tianjin are being redirected to Shanghai, which does not have the capacity for the sudden cargo influx China has detected the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in a second major port city, deepening concern that the vastly more infectious variant could spread quickly across the world’s largest trading nation, upending global supply chains. Chinese officials said yesterday that at least one person has Omicron in Dalian, a city of 7 million. A second person also tested positive for the virus, but the variant is unknown. Both are college students who returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday from Tianjin, where at least 137 other cases were traced as of Wednesday. Dalian joins Tianjin as the second crucial port city
Japan extended measures barring almost all new foreign arrivals until the end of next month and is to reopen mass vaccination centers as it battles an surge of COVID-19 cases, the government said yesterday. “We will keep the current border control policy until the end of February while taking necessary measures from a humanitarian viewpoint and considering the national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Local media said that there would be some new exemptions for members of Japanese families as well as students studying in Japan, but there were no immediate details from officials. The government is also to reopen