Russian artist to face trial over sex videos that sank President Macron ally

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A Russian artist and his partner have been ordered to stand trial in France over leaked sex videos that brought down a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron two years ago, a source close to the case told AFP on Tuesday.

Activist Pyotr Pavlensky, 38, has admitted publishing the videos sent to his girlfriend Alexandra de Taddeo by Benjamin Griveaux, a former government spokesman and lawmaker who was standing in the election for Paris mayor.

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Griveaux, a married father of three, quickly dropped out of politics, telling judges investigating the case that the leaks had been “very difficult and violent” for his career and family life.

The artist, who received asylum in France in 2017 after several radical protests in Russia, said he published the racy videos and texts as part of a “political porn” platform to expose the hypocrisy of public officials.

The order to stand trial on invasion of privacy charges “was totally expected because ‘PornoPolitique’ is my artwork, which I signed as an artist,” he told AFP.

Pavlensky has a track record of causing outrage, perhaps most notoriously in 2013, when he nailed his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square to protest against the “apathy and political indifference” of Russian society.

In October 2017, he set fire to Bank of France offices on Place de la Bastille in Paris, where an infamous prison was attacked at the start of the 1789 French revolution, leading to a suspended prison sentence.

But in the court order to stand trial on invasion of privacy charges, judges cast doubt on de Taddeo’s claim that the videos were published without her knowledge or consent.

“We are waiting for the trial to finally debate my client’s involvement in the matter,” her lawyer Noemie Saidi-Cottier said.

Griveaux’s lawyer declined to comment.

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