Living in luxury: how families of Russian oligarchs escape war sanctions in France

Europe — Investigation

Mediapart can reveal that close family members of Russians sanctioned after the invasion of Ukraine are continuing to use their luxury properties in France, which have escaped from being frozen by the French Treasury as assets. Among those benefiting include family members of Vladimir Putin's veteran spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and several oligarchs. The revelations emerge from a joint investigation carried out with the German NGO Civil Forum for Asset Recovery (CIFAR) and media network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). Sébastien Bourdon, Yann Philippin and Alexandre Brutelle (CIFAR) report. 

MEPs slam European Commission over ‘missed opportunity’ to tackle corruption


Six months after the so-called “Qatargate” scandal that rocked the European Parliament, prompting an ongoing investigation in Belgium into allegations that Qatar and Morocco were involved in a cash-for-influence campaign within the chamber, the European Commission on Thursday presented its proposals for an “Ethics Body” to tighten anti-corruption measures. But it has been slammed by many MEPs of all political shades, and also NGOs, as toothless and a missed opportunity, given it has no powers of investigation nor those to sanction wrongdoers. Ludovic Lamant reports.

Why China wants Macron to drive a wedge between Europe and US

International — Link

Xi Jinping thinks France can stop the EU falling further under Joe Biden’s influence. 

The Russian mathematician relentlessly persecuted by Putin's henchmen


Russian mathematician Azat Miftakhov, serving a six-year sentence in a penal colony for supposed vandalism, is in principle eligible for release in September. But Russia’s security services, the FSB, are preparing a new case against him, using the false testimony of individuals under torture, this time for supposed terrorist activities. In this report by Antoine Perraud, two Russian anarchists exiled in France recount their ordeals at the hands of the Kremlin regime.

Ukraine: the anger and legal quandary surrounding collaboration

Europe — Report

After the recapture by Ukraine last autumn of territories occupied by Russia since its invasion of the country in February 2022, there is a strong public demand that those who collaborated with the occupier should be brought to account before the courts. Beyond the most flagrant cases, the legal process of identifying collaboration can be both complicated and sensitive, with some having acted voluntarily, others under duress. The prosecution services, meanwhile, are under pressure to act swiftly. Carine Fouteau reports from the city of Kharkiv and its surrounds, liberated last September.

EU court forces France to end use of ‘bee killer’ insecticide


French agriculture minister Marc Fesneau has announced the end of a controversial exemption granted to sugar beet producers to use a family of insecticides dubbed “bee killers” and which were banned by the European Union in 2018. The move follows a ruling last week by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court, which outlaws member states from any further use of a legal loophole which allowed for "emergency" dispensation from the ban on neonicotinoids, which scientific studies have linked to a collapse of colonies of honey bees and other pollinators, and also bird populations. Amélie Poinssot reports.

Judge leading EU parliament corruption probe warns of the growing power of 'dirty money'

Europe — Interview

Belgian judge Michel Claise is leading the investigation into the snowballing corruption scandal rocking the European Parliament in Brussels, and which has already led to the downfall and imprisonment of a now former vice president of the chamber. In this interview with Mediapart, the veteran investigating magistrate, specialised in financial crime, details the extent to which corruption and organised crime are out of control in Europe, and slams the lack of resources to fight it. “When you touch on dirty money, and when that involves the political world, people become transformed into wild animals,” he says.

France pitches massive ‘Made in Europe’ strategy

France — Link

The idea from Paris comes as EU debates how to respond to a recent Unites States subsidy push.

EU parliament scandal: Morocco spared by MEPs but probe closes in


Revelations in the so-called “Qatargate” corruption scandal engulfing the European Parliament this month, involving past and present members of the chamber, including its former vice-president, are snowballing. While the Belgian authorities continue investigations into those implicated in an alleged Qatari slush-fund used to buy favours from EU lawmakers, MEPs have suspended all legislative work in connection with Qatar, and withdrawn access to the institution by the Gulf State’s representatives. But they shied from including Morocco in the sanctions, despite growing evidence of its involvement in the influence peddling. Mediapart's European affairs correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.  

Mykolaiv and Dnipro: a tale of two cities under attack

Europe — Report

The true toll of civilian casualties in the war in Ukraine remains unclear, with estimates ranging from 17,000 dead and wounded (according to UN figures) to more than 40,000 dead (according to the US military). Following Ukraine’s recapture earlier this month of the southern city of Kherson, Russia has intensified its missile strikes across the country, many of them landing on civilian areas. Mediapart’s Mathilde Goanec reports here from two cities targeted by the attacks: Mykolaiv, in the south-east, close to the Black Sea, and Dnipro, in the centre-south.

How France has lagged behind allies over military aid for Ukraine

International — Data

On Monday October 10th the Élysée announced “new measures to support Ukraine militarily”. Two days later President Emmanuel Macron said France would be sending air-defence systems to the country after the recent Russian missile attacks. Up to now the French government has concealed exactly how much military support it has given to Kyiv since Russia's invasion in February, justifying this on the grounds of operational secrecy. However, a think tank has now detailed the military aid that all countries have given to Ukraine, and these figures show that France trails behind other key allies. Justine Brabant and Donatien Huet report.

The growing evidence that agroecology could and should replace intensive farming


The post-war development in Europe of productivity-driven intensive farming, with its environmentally harmful use of synthetic pesticides, vast fields of monoculture, and industrial animal-rearing, could be feasibly replaced by large-scale organic farming, capable of feeding the continent’s populations under an agricultural umbrella system called agroecology. That is the conclusion of a large and growing body of international scientific research, and the subject of several recent studies published in France. Amélie Poinssot examines the evidence.

Why SPD election victory in Germany is no new dawn for Europe’s social democrats

International — Analysis

Germany’s social democrat SPD party came first in the country’s parliamentary elections on September 26th, garnering just more than a quarter of votes cast. It places the centre-left party in prime position to form a new coalition government, which would see Olaf Scholz, the party’s candidate for chancellor, succeed the outgoing Angela Merkel. But, writes Fabien Escalona in this analysis of the wider implications of the election, the knife-edge victory of the once moribund SPD is very much a relative one, and is far from auguring a resurgence of the social democrat movement in Europe, despite similarly fragile recent wins in Nordic countries.

Hundreds arrested after French police crack criminals' chat network

International — Link

Police forces across Europe have carried out hundreds of arrests, seizing cash, drugs and weapons after listening in on an encrypted communications network used by criminal gangs which was cracked by French police in 2017.  

The rising threat of Europe’s ultra-right as it eyes military and police


The suspect arrested for the deadly attacks last Wednesday on a synagogue and Turkish restaurant in the German city of Halle has said his acts were driven by far-right ideology and a hatred of Jews. The shooting and bombing rampage followed a series of attacks around Europe by ultra-right groups, prompting the EU police agency Europol, in a recent confidential report, to urge increased cooperation to contain the problem. But Europol also gave a chilling warning that the extremists “are attempting to win over members from the military and security services” in order to build “combat skills”.