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POLITICS

French island MP pelted with seaweed by anti health-pass protesters

French politicians from across the spectrum on Monday condemned an attack on a lawmaker from the North Atlantic overseas territory of Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon by protesters against the government's Covid-19 health pass.

French island MP pelted with seaweed by anti health-pass protesters
Protesters outside the home of MP Stephane Claireaux Photo: Jean-Christophe Lespagnol/AFP

Video circulating on social media showed Stephane Claireaux, an MP from from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, being pelted at the weekend with seaweed and dirt by jeering protesters outside his home on the windswept territory off the Canadian island of Newfoundland.

The images are “quite horrifying. It’s a further level of violence against elected officials,” minister for relations with parliament Marc Fesneau told broadcaster Public Senat.

Sunday’s attack came a few days ahead of the introduction of France’s health pass in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, home to fewer than 6,000 people. The measure, long in place in mainland France, requires people to present proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to enter public spaces like bars.

“We have to condemn such attacks, because in the end it’s totalitarianism if you subject local or national elected officials to physical pressure… That’s not acceptable in a democracy,” Fesneau said.

Claireaux had earlier told broadcaster France Info that he had been waiting for the demonstrators outside his home “so as to talk to them”.

“There was a car loaded with seaweed… and people started chucking it at me. It was like being stoned. My wife came out to join me on the front step. I dodged a rock that missed our faces by five centimetres,” he said.

Claireaux added that he would be filing criminal charges against those responsible.

“People are free to think that we’re not making the right decisions. We’re all getting death threats by email. At some point this has to stop,” he said.

Christophe Castaner, leader of Macron’s party in parliament, told France Inter radio there had been 322 threats against MPs in 2021 – two-thirds of them against the ruling party.

Tensions over health measures have risen in France since Macron last week said he planned to “piss off” the unvaccinated until they accepted shots.

“Some anti-vaxxers use the president’s provocative statements to justify their violence. But nothing can justify it. These acts are deeply shocking, especially outside a family’s private home,” Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure said.

Meanwhile senior conservative MP Eric Ciotti said the incident was just one among many “excesses that are taking an extraordinarily worrying and dangerous turn”, calling for “heavy punishments for those who use violence”.

But he also attacked Macron for “seeking conflict, seeking tension, seeking to divide for political reasons”.

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UKRAINE

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.

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