Russian Arrested in French Sex-Video Scandal

PARIS (AFP) — French prosecutors on Tuesday placed a Russian artist and his girlfriend under investigation over the leaking of a sex video that brought down a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron.

Pyotr Pavlensky and Alexandra de Taddeo are charged with invasion of privacy and publishing images of a sexual nature without consent in the leaking of the video that forced the governing party’s Benjamin Griveaux to end his campaign to become mayor of Paris.

Pavlensky is also being probed over a knife fight at a New Year’s Eve party in Paris.

Paris prosecutors on Tuesday asked he be placed in detention for that incident.

Pavlensky, 35, and de Taddeo, 29, were arrested Saturday and questioned for two days. They were to be brought before an investigating magistrate Tuesday to face possible charges.

Pavlensky, an artist and activist who fled Russia in 2017, has admitted publishing the video showing a man masturbating, along with racy text messages.

De Taddeo is believed to have been the recipient of the video and messages, which were uploaded onto a website created by Pavlensky and widely shared on social media.

Griveaux, a married father of three and former government spokesman, pulled out of the running for Paris mayor after the scandal broke.

The leaking of the video triggered an outpouring of sympathy for the politician in France, where politicians and the media generally dismiss sex scandals as private affairs.

Pavlensky, who made global headlines in 2013 when he nailed his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow as a form of political protest, told Agence France-Presse last week that he wanted to expose the “hypocrisy” of the 42-year-old politician who had made families a core theme of his campaign.

With just a month to go until the municipal elections, former health minister Agnes Buzyn was chosen to take his place as the Paris mayoral candidate of Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party.

She faces a stiff challenge to oust the Socialist incumbent Anne Hidalgo — Griveaux was running a distant third before the video emerged.

Pavlensky, who has a long record of radical protests, received asylum in France in 2017 after falling foul of Russian authorities.

He was originally detained on Saturday on accusations he pulled a knife during a brawl at a New Year’s Eve party in Paris, before investigators shifted their focus to the leaked sex video.

© Agence France-Presse

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