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Russian artist defends leaking sex video that ended Paris mayoral bid of Emmanuel Macron ally

Piotr Pavlensky leaked the video as a fight against political “hypocrisy”.

Griveaux dropped out of the mayoral race citing concern for his wife and children.
Griveaux dropped out of the mayoral race citing concern for his wife and children.
Image: Blondet Eliot/ABACA

A FORMER GOVERNMENT spokesman for French leader Emmanuel Macron pulled out of the race to become mayor of Paris after an alleged compromising video of him leaked online. 

The sudden withdrawal of Benjamin Griveaux left the president’s party without a mayoral candidate in the capital for the municipal elections next month.

Paris is the most coveted of France’s municipalities and a political prize that has been used in the past, notably by former president Jacques Chirac, as a springboard for higher office.

Russian protest artist Piotr Pavlensky confirmed to AFP that he posted the sex video that tanked the Paris mayoral bid of Benjamin Griveaux, calling his action a fight against political “hypocrisy”.

A grim-faced Griveaux announced the withdrawal this morning, saying he had been targeted by “vile attacks” on the internet and social media.

The controversial Pavlensky, who enjoys political asylum in France, said leaked images of a man masturbating were the first contribution to a “political porn” website created to expose what he considered deceitful behaviour by people in power.

“I have launched the first ‘political porn’ platform,” he said after Griveaux dropped out of the mayoral race citing concern for his wife and children.

“Obviously I need sources. I hope that I will have enough material.”

Known for some startling stunts, which have included nailing his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow, Pavlensky insisted his problem was not with Griveaux’s morals or personal choices, but political deceit.

russian-artist-piotr-pavlenski-claims-the-origin-of-griveaux-video Pavlenskyi won't divulge where he got the video from. Source: Avenir Pictures/ABACA

french-president-macron-signs-legal-texts-paris Source: Pool/ABACA

“It is a matter of principle. It is as if someone who campaigns against violence against women beats up his wife every night,” he said.

“Benjamin Griveaux started his campaign with a monstrous lie, a disgusting hypocrisy, he used his family, his wife, his children to create a political image and present himself as an icon for all the fathers and husbands of Paris.”

Griveaux campaigned on “traditional family values” he did not follow himself, claimed Pavlensky, complaining that “hypocrisy has become the norm in France. It should not be considered normal.”

Having earlier told the Liberation newspaper that he got the images from a “source” who had a consensual relationship with Griveaux, he refused to divulge any further details about the video’s origins.

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‘We’re not trying to elect saints’

Rapid expressions of support for Griveaux, even from political rivals, were a reminder of the longstanding and widely held view in France that public servants’ private lives are largely off limits.

Politicians warned that people will no longer want to stand for elected office if they run the risk of their private affairs becoming public, and that the leaking of sexually explicit material was a threat to France’s democratic traditions.

“We’re not trying to elect saints,” said Sebastien Chenu, a spokesman for the far-right National Rally party, normally an unforgiving political opponent of Mr Griveaux’s centrist camp.

On the far-left, former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon also expressed support, saying Griveaux was the victim of score-settling and that French public life must not become prey to voyeurism.

“The publication of intimate images to destroy an adversary is odious,” Melenchon tweeted.

Legislator Cedric Villani, who split from Griveaux’s party to stand against him in Paris, warned in a tweet that his rival was the victim of an attack that posed “a serious threat for our democracy”.

- With reporting from PA

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