Interviews

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

    Belgian judge Michel Claise. © Photo Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart Belgian judge Michel Claise. © Photo Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart

    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.

  • Mayor in French Caribbean vows to 'fight on' after judges dismiss pesticide pollution case

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    A sign next to a banana plantation in the north of Martinique, January 21st 2020. © Photo : Benoit Durand / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP A sign next to a banana plantation in the north of Martinique, January 21st 2020. © Photo : Benoit Durand / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

    Earlier this month judges in Paris dismissed a legal case brought by residents from the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe over the widespread use of the pesticide chlordecone which has polluted local ecosystems. The Green mayor of Pointe-à-Pitrre in Guadeloupe, Harry Durimel, who is also a lawyer acting for victims of the pesticide, has announced his intention to appeal. In an interview with Mediapart's Mickaël Correia, he talks about the harmful impact of the court ruling – including on how France's overseas citizens will now view the French state.

  • French judge applauds outcry over graphic novelist’s child-sex themes

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    Judge Édouard Durand. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP Judge Édouard Durand. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP

    The prestigious Angoulème International Comics Festival has cancelled its planned showcasing in January of the works of acclaimed French graphic novel artist Bastien Vivès, following strong protest that some of his works promote paedophilia and incest, which he denies. In an interview with Mediapart, French magistrate Édouard Durand, co-president of a newly created “independent commission on incest and sexual violence towards children”, says the outcry illustrates a new public awareness about the extent of the sexual abuse of children, and says cartoon portrayal of the subject is “unbearable for all child victims and the adults they have become, unbearable for everyone who understand what they live through”.

  • Retired French lieutenant general slams Europe’s ‘tragic’ military capacity

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    Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv take delivery of US anti-tank missiles, February 11th 2022. © Photo Sergei Supinsky / AFP Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv take delivery of US anti-tank missiles, February 11th 2022. © Photo Sergei Supinsky / AFP

    The war in Ukraine has both demonstrated and heightened the dependence of European countries on US military support, while also creating divisions in their defence strategies, notably between Germany and France. In this interview with Justine Brabant, retired French army lieutenant general Jean-Paul Perruche, who served at a senior level in NATO and as director general of the European Union military staff, offers his analysis of the challenges now facing Europe. He argues why it must build a structure to allow for common military autonomy with pragmatic plans to deal with future threats. “It’s really quite pitiful that we are incapable of doing anything, whereas we have four times the budget of the Russians,” he says. “It’s tragic.”

  • Seeking answers to a summer of extremes

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    Le Sou river in the Camarie gorges of Lagrasse, in south-west France, August 5th 2022. © Photo Idriss Bigou-Gilles / Hans Lucas via AFP Le Sou river in the Camarie gorges of Lagrasse, in south-west France, August 5th 2022. © Photo Idriss Bigou-Gilles / Hans Lucas via AFP

    France is grappling with the consequences of a series of successive heatwaves this summer, aggravated by record drought conditions which began in winter, leading to massive wildfires, a fall in energy production, and tumbling crop yields. While weather predictions suggest this autumn will see notably violent storms, these are expected to have little effect on the refilling of phreatic zones. Mediapart turned to French hydrologist Emma Haziza to explore what must change to ensure the future supply and protection of water.

  • 'Bloodlands' author Timothy Snyder on why Russia’s war against Ukraine is 'genocide'

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    Timothy Snyder: 'Russians can’t stop talking about their own genocidal intent.' © Photo Jiri Zerzon for Hospodarske Noviny Timothy Snyder: 'Russians can’t stop talking about their own genocidal intent.' © Photo Jiri Zerzon for Hospodarske Noviny

    In this interview with Mediapart, Yale University professor of history Timothy Snyder, a specialist on eastern European history and notably Ukraine, author of Bloodlands, his internationally acclaimed book about mass murders in central and eastern Europe beginning in the 1930s, argues why he believes Russia’s war against Ukraine amounts to genocide in the full legal sense of the term. He also sketches Ukraine’s long history of resistance to oppression, the singular character of its society, and why it is vital for the future Europe, and even Russia, that Ukraine wins the war.

  • European Commission VP Timmermans says Ukraine war has ‘increased urgency’ for a ‘sustainable society’

    Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president. © Photo Fred Marvaux/European Union Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president. © Photo Fred Marvaux/European Union

    The upheaval of Russia’s war against Ukraine has further tested the already challenging agenda for the introduction of the European Commission’s measures on climate change, and notably its ambitious ‘Green Deal’ programme aimed at making the EU carbon neutral by 2050. The man in the hot seat is Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Green Deal and climate change measures. In this interview with Mediapart, he discusses the impact on the bloc of the war in Ukraine, the fossil fuel quandary, why European agriculture must move away from intensive farming to a sustainable, environmentalist model, and why he calls upon political leaders to show the “courage to recognise the crisis that we are in”.

  • The emerging voting patterns of rural France

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    Election campaign posters in the village of Médréac, in  Brittany. © Photo Martin Bertrand / Hans Lucas via AFP Election campaign posters in the village of Médréac, in Brittany. © Photo Martin Bertrand / Hans Lucas via AFP

    The first round of voting earlier this month in France’s presidential elections showed notable political differences between the country’s regions, and also between rural areas and large urban centres. As next Sunday’s decisive second round of the elections approaches, Mediapart’s Amélie Poinssot turned to sociologist Benoît Coquard, a specialist researcher of rural communities, for his insight into the voting patterns that have emerged.

  • How French Resistance footballer murdered by the Nazis became an icon for grassroots fans

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    A display at Red Star's Bauer stadium at Saint-Ouen in February 2014marking the 70th anniversary of Rino Della Negra's execution. © Photo : Red Star Fans A display at Red Star's Bauer stadium at Saint-Ouen in February 2014marking the 70th anniversary of Rino Della Negra's execution. © Photo : Red Star Fans

    During World War II a young man called Rino Della Negra played for the prestigious Red Star football club from Saint-Ouen in the northern suburbs of Paris. But as well as playing top-level football he was also secretly a member of a French Resistance group. Della Negra was executed on February 21st 1944 by the Nazis at the age of just 20, but later became an icon of the club's grassroots fans. Now two historians have charted the life of this young working class footballer. As Mickaël Correia reports, Della Negra was also the the son of Italian immigrants and his story makes a mockery of the hazy notion of “national identity” so beloved by the far-right today.

  • Former Kremlin insider reveals Putin’s system of corruption

    By and Madeleine Leroyer
    Sergei Chemezov with Vladimir Putin, May 8th 2017. © Photo Alexei Nikolsky / présidence russe / Tass / Abaca Sergei Chemezov with Vladimir Putin, May 8th 2017. © Photo Alexei Nikolsky / présidence russe / Tass / Abaca

    In this second part of a lengthy interview he gave to Mediapart this month, oligarch Sergei Pugachev, once a Kremlin insider close to Vladimir Putin, says one of the Russian president’s key allies, a former fellow KGB officer, Sergei Chemezov, regularly negotiated secret commissions on arms deals which were paid into offshore accounts for the benefit of both Chemezov and Putin. According to Pugachev, that was also the case in an ill-fated deal for Russia’s purchase from France of several Mistral amphibious assault vessels.