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Russian Artist Pavlensky, Partner Being Questioned Over Sex Tape That Sank Macron Ally

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Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky

A Russian artist and his partner were being detained for questioning about a sex video leak that upended the Paris mayoral race, prosecutors in the French capital said on February 16.

Pyotr Pavlensky, who was arrested on February 15 regarding separate allegations of violence on New Year's Eve, has claimed responsibility for posting online a sex video that brought down a high-profile candidate for Paris mayor.

The candidate, Benjamin Griveaux of French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La Republique En Marche party, resigned as a junior minister last year to take part in the mayoral race in March. Polls put him in third place behind outgoing Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo and conservative challenger Rachida Dati.

Macron's party is now scrambling for a replacement candidate for the contest.

The prosecutor's office said Griveaux filed a complaint on February 16 for invasion of his private life and an investigation was opened.

"No one should be subjected to such abuse," Griveaux had said.

French police says Pavlensky’s partner, who was not named by investigators, was also being detained for questioning on suspicion of violating privacy and publishing sexual images without consent.

Pavlensky was arrested on February 15 over a case involving “violence with a weapon” on New Year’s Eve, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. French media reported that Pavlensky allegedly drew a knife during a dispute at a Paris apartment and that two guests were wounded.

Pavlensky fled Russia in 2017 and was granted political asylum in France.

The artist is known for attention-grabbing protests. In the past, he has nailed his scrotum to Moscow's Red Square, sewn his lips together, wrapped himself naked in barbed wire, and chopped off part of his ear.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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