Russian artist who posted a sex video that shot down Macron’s ally arrested

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The French authorities arrested a Russian artist on Saturday who claimed responsibility for releasing a sex video that shot down Emmanuel Macron’s favorite candidate in the race for mayor of Paris.

Pyotr Pavlensky, who left Russia in 2017 after he was informed of the rape accusations against him, was interrogated at a police station on the left bank of Paris about a separate case involving “violence with a gun” on the eve New Year’s Eve, said the prosecutor’s office in Paris.

FILE: Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky arrives at the courthouse in Paris, as he goes on trial after setting fire to the facade of the central bank of France in Paris.
(AP)

Benjamin Griveaux, a former government spokesman and member of the La République party In Marche de Macron, resigned from the mayor’s career after images appeared on Thursday of an online chat that included a video of a man’s genitals.

The prosecutor’s office said Griveaux filed a complaint on Saturday for an invasion of his private life, and an investigation was opened.

The circumstances surrounding his abandonment sent shock waves through the French political establishment. On Sunday, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn announced that she would replace Griveaux as a candidate for mayor of the La République En Marche party, Euronews reported. The choice of two rounds starts in a month.

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The mayor of Paris is a high profile job that the Macron party counted on to win. But Griveaux had been fighting in the race, with polls showing him in third place.

The candidate for mayor of Paris, Benjamin Griveaux, gives a press conference as part of the campaign for the next elections for mayor to be held on March 15, 2020.

The candidate for mayor of Paris, Benjamin Griveaux, gives a press conference as part of the campaign for the next elections for mayor to be held on March 15, 2020.
(AP)

Pavlensky has had problems with the law before. He was convicted in January 2019 of setting fire to a branch of the Bank of France and damaging its facade in 2017. He was sentenced to one year in prison, plus a suspended sentence of two years. However, the judge allowed Pavlensky to go free because he had already spent 11 months in pretrial detention.

Pavlensky created a special site to publish explicit video material, which is believed to have been extracted from cell phone exchanges.

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Pavlensky was quoted on Friday as saying he carried out the action to denounce what he claimed was the “hypocrisy” of Griveaux, who often spoke publicly about his partner and children. He told French media that Griveaux was “a candidate who has lied to his constituents” and “very dangerous” for Paris.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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