Russian artist sentenced over French politician’s sex tape

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Russian artist sentenced over French politician’s sex tape
Benjamin Griveaux stepped out of the race to become Paris' next mayor on Friday. Photo: AFP

A Russian artist in exile in France has been handed a six-month sentence for posting compromising videos online that forced a politician to abandon his bid for election as Paris Mayor in February 2020.


Piotr Pavlenski, 39, will not serve his sentence in prison, but will be required to wear an electronic tag after he was found guilty of posting a video online of former LREM - now Renaissance - candidate Benjamin Griveaux performing a sex act.

The artist’s partner, Alexandra de Taddeo, 32, received a six-month suspended sentence for her involvement.

The sex tape was made, the court heard, while Griveaux - a former aide of President Emmanuel Macron as well as an ex-government minister and MP - had been in a brief relationship two years earlier with de Taddeo. She later became involved with Pavlenski.

Soon after the footage was published, Griveaux - a married father of three - announced he was stepping down as a candidate in the Paris mayoral race in February 2020.


 Pavlenski, known for extreme art performances in Russia, had defended the broadcast as his “eighth subject-object art event”, when he arrived at court and invoked his “artistic freedom”. He then remained silent during the hearing.

READ ALSO ANALYSIS: Does the Griveaux scandal mean it's now open season on French politicians' sex lives?

The court ruled that “not every action can be committed in the name of freedom of expression”. 

Griveaux’s resignation caused a political scandal at the time, with politicians from all sides criticising a “voyeuristic shipwreck”, and a “threat to democracy”.

Pavlenski had initially offered the footage to French news site Mediapart, which refused to publish it because of the “sacred principle of the absolute respect of private life”.

In France, publishing explicit content without the permission of the subject is illegal and carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

Pavlensky, who had accused the married Griveaux of hypocrisy during the Paris mayor campaign, indicated as he left the courtroom that he would not appeal.

"My work of art 'Pornopolitics' is now finished, because the judge's conviction is the last point in my works of art, it's always like that. That's why I'm not going to appeal."

For Benjamin Griveaux's lawyer, Richard Malka, "the artistic fantasies of one and the denials of the other were rejected by the court".


Of Griveaux he said: "Obviously, he is pleased that justice has been done, but the wrongs done to him will never be made good."

The trial, which started on June 28th, was marked by the absence of Griveaux and incidents which exasperated the judge including applause in the courtroom and actors called as witnesses only to quote lines from French playwright Molière.

Pavlensky was sentenced in 2019 to three years in prison, two of them suspended, for setting fire to the facade of a branch of France's central bank in Paris.


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