Macron ally pulls out from Paris mayoral race over sex scandal
PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron's chosen candidate to become Paris mayor, Mr Benjamin Griveaux, pulled out of the race on Friday over a sex scandal.
Mr Griveaux, a 42-year-old MP, had allegedly sent sexual images to a woman who is not his wife. He has brought a legal case against Mr Pyotr Pavlensky over the release of the video and an inquiry has been opened, the Paris prosecutor's office said on Saturday.
Mr Pavlensky's girlfriend was arrested on charges of invasion of privacy and publishing images of a sexual nature without consent, the prosecutor said.
She had received the videos and passed them to Mr Pavlensky. It is unclear if police will be taking any action against him.
Mr Pavlensky, an activist and performance artist, said on Friday he put the video online to expose Mr Griveaux's "hypocrisy" and planned to post more material on a newly-created "political porn platform".
"(Mr 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," Mr Pavlensky told the Liberation daily.
The 35-year-old fled to France from Russia as a political refugee in 2017.
He made headlines in 2013 after nailing his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow. Two years later, he doused the doors of the secret police headquarters with petrol and set them on fire.
In October 2017, he set fire to offices of the Bank of France on Place de la Bastille, site of the attack at the start of the French revolution in 1789. The bank's presence on such hallowed revolutionary ground was "historically shameful", he said.
He was sentenced to three years' jail, two suspended, for the destruction of other people's property.
His protests have elicited a mixed response among Russian opposition groups. Some defend his actions as a form of engaged art but others, such as late activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, were more blunt, branding his actions "idiotic".
On Saturday, Mr Pavlensky was arrested by French police over an unrelated act of violence, the Paris prosecutor's office said. He was taken in for questioning over an alleged instance of "armed violence" that took place on Dec 31.
The incident involved a fight at a Paris apartment in which a knife from the kitchen was used.
Two guests suffered knife wounds, said the Mediapart investigative website. - AFP