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.
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines
Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero COVID-19” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, students said on Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the protest on Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing. A citywide lockdown of Shanghai and expanded restrictions in Beijing in the past few
‘EATING UP SPRING’: Temperatures are 10oC to 15oC above the seasonal average and a city northwest of Madrid experienced its first ‘tropical’ May night on Friday Parts of Spain are experiencing their hottest May since records began, as a mass of hot, dry air blows in from Africa, bringing with it dusty skies and temperatures of more than 40°C. Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, has warned of a weekend heat wave of an “extraordinary intensity,” with temperatures between 10°C and 15°C above the seasonal average and more akin to high summer than mid-May. “The early hours of 21 May have been extraordinarily hot for the time of year across a good part of the center and south of the peninsula,” Aemet said on Saturday. “In many places the
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were