Rififi in Saint-Etienne. A complaint for “aggravated blackmail” was filed on Monday August 29 against the mayor of Saint-Etienne Gaël Perdriaux (LR) by his former first deputy Gilles Artigues (UDI), after revelations from Mediapart on an alleged manipulation of the sextape, AFP learned from concordant sources. According to the investigative media, which published audio recordings of the mayor of the city as well as an interview with one of the protagonists, Gaël Perdriaux would have mounted a plot to film his first deputy in a compromising situation with an “escort boy”, i.e. a young man paid for sexual services. The video would have been a means of pressure against Gilles Artigues and his ambitions from Saint-Etienne. This type of “kompromat” – political blackmail instrumentalizing a compromising affair of morals – has the reputation of being a specialty of the countries of the former USSR. However, they also respond to a very French tradition, as explained to Marianne journalist Christophe Dubois, author, with journalist Christophe Deloire, of Sexus Politicus published by Albin Michel editions.
Marianne: This case is presented in the press as a “barbouzage”, could you explain to us what it is?
Christopher Dubois: I’ve seen that term actually used. In reality, the most adequate term is “kompromat”. The idea is to trap a politician, to compromise him, by using a situation of a sexual nature in order to neutralize him in this way. There are several variants, but what is most commonly done is to let the person concerned know that we have this type of information about him. The matter remains in the political circle. Here, the particularity is that it has been made public, which is quite rare because this type of process is made to dismiss a person discreetly.
Because once the affair has been made public – and we can see it in this case – the authors of the blackmail also risk being held accountable?
From the moment it is made public, we actually risk the sprinkler syndrome. Gilles Artigues has, of course, been cut off in these political impulses, but the affair is now turning completely against his sponsor. These are methods that must remain discreet, because it is never a good thing to appear as the manipulator in this type of business that hits below the belt.
READ ALSO: “This dabbing is an order!” : the actors of the sex tape blackmail come out of the silence
Is this type of sextape blackmail common in politics, in France?
Sex has always been a weapon of political destruction. We have, in France, a form of French tradition of blackmail of a sexual nature. From the 18th century, with the libelles, small pornographic papers which were widely distributed and which were very popular. It is the tradition of destabilization of the powerful and of power. If we look at the 1960s, we have the Markovic affair during which it is a question of fine parties which would have implicated the wife of President Georges Pompidou. At the time, it is said that photos were taken, but it was completely bogus. Pompidou, he retained an enormous bitterness, especially since he had just succeeded de Gaulle and the Gaullists did nothing to silence the scandal.
Other affairs have marked French political life for forty or fifty years. I am thinking of the case of the ballets bleus du Coral, in 1982, a case of sexual abuse of minors in which several political figures were implicated. In 1995, when Jacques Chirac and Édouard Balladur were at loggerheads, rumors circulated about Balladur’s homosexuality. The balladuriens very quickly suspected the chiraquians of being behind these rumours. In 2002, we have the affair of the hidden son of Jacques Chirac: there too, rumors are circulated according to which Chirac has a hidden son in Japan, a country of which he is passionate. The case would even go up to the DGSE – the external intelligence services. There is also the Baudis case, the former mayor of Toulouse was wrongly accused of being involved in a case of prostitution and sadomasochism.
“The growing acceptance of homosexuality somehow seems to be accompanied by a greater exposure of the political class. »
What interest for the people behind these blackmails?
Removing a political adversary and putting pressure on him. There was also a French tradition in the police services which were very eager for this type of information. There was the socialite (the vice squad) who had a safe where notes on Parisian nightlife were stored. These services controlled cabarets and nightclubs and collected a great deal of information on the nightlife of Parisians – mainly celebrities. The services communicated this information to the police headquarters, which could communicate it to the Ministry of the Interior, which sent it back higher. It was, at a minimum, a means of knowing the vulnerabilities of each other and, if necessary, a means of pressure.
Nicolas Sarkozy put an end to the white notes, notes without headers, without official character, which told a bit of everything and anything. Today, it may seem quite offbeat, even mind-blowing. Of course, that period is over and those methods no longer exist.
READ ALSO: Sextape blackmail, embezzlement, complaint: the case that shakes Saint-Etienne
In the affair taking place in Saint-Etienne, does the homosexual dimension play a determining role?
What was targeted is not only that he was threatened with what would be akin to a homosexual relationship when he is not openly, but in addition Gilles Artigues had political positions critical of the demands. of the homosexual community. What I also remember is that in recent years there has been a proliferation of cases involving homosexual people or relationships: the Cochard case – elected Communist of the mayor of Paris accused of rape – the Santini case – deputy mayor of ‘Issy-les-Moulineaux targeted by an investigation for rape and sexual assault by two city hall employees – and the Girard case, who is accused of having turned a blind eye to the actions of one of his friends, Gabriel Matzneff accused of child crime. The growing acceptance of homosexuality somehow seems to be accompanied by greater exposure of the political class.
In post-Me Too France, can these matters of morals undo careers?
MeToo first had a saving effect, it is a release of speech. But there may be manipulation operations among the real victims. In the flow of cases that can circulate, it is important to put the cursor in the right place, to know how to sort out what is pure manipulation and a proven case. Political power relies a lot on justice, but having an elected official or a minister resign solely on a judicial criterion is out of step with what public opinion expects. It is no longer audible to say that we must wait for the end of the investigation, we have moved on to another level of tolerance.