Interviews

  • 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.

  • Exiled Russian oligarch Sergei Pugachev on Putin’s ‘junta’ and why Ukraine marks its downfall

    By and Madeleine Leroyer
    Sergei Pugachev, pictured here at his home in Nice, south-east France, in 2016. © Photo Adam Ferguson/ The New York Times / REA Sergei Pugachev, pictured here at his home in Nice, south-east France, in 2016. © Photo Adam Ferguson/ The New York Times / REA

    Exiled Russian oligarch Sergei Pugachev, who became dubbed “the Kremlin’s banker”, was once part of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, until he was eventually cast out by the Russian president and took refuge abroad. In this interview with Mediapart, he details how Putin and his close allies, what he calls “a junta which has captured power, all the money and all the institutions of the state”, function. He denounces a system of corruption on a vast scale, including that of foreign politicians, argues why the decision to wage war on Ukraine marks “the end of Putin’s Russia”, and describes French President Emmanuel Macron’s frequent calls to Putin as “ridiculous”.

  • How Russia built its soft power in France

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    Vladimir Putin greeting former French PM François Fillon at his official residence near Moscow, March 21st 2013. © ALEXEY DRUZHININ / RIA-NOVOSTI / AFP Vladimir Putin greeting former French PM François Fillon at his official residence near Moscow, March 21st 2013. © ALEXEY DRUZHININ / RIA-NOVOSTI / AFP

    For years, Russia led a vast campaign to promote its standing and influence in western Europe, and particularly in France, where the Kremlin’s soft-power strategy had notably, and successfully, targeted political and business circles. In this interview with Mediapart, Marlène Laruelle, director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University, details the history and reach of Russia’s drive to gain influence in France, and which was “destroyed in a matter of days, and for several years to come” following its invasion of Ukraine.

  • The 'exposome': tracing chronic diseases and their environmental causes

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    Paolo Vineis. © Chaine YouTube The Climate group Paolo Vineis. © Chaine YouTube The Climate group

    Around the world, tens of thousands of chemicals are present in the environment, in soil, the air and in water, and little is known about their individual consequences on human health nor how to measure them. Lifelong exposure to environmental pollution and the non-genetic causation of diseases this may have is the focus of a relatively recent and pioneering field of inter-disciplinary scientific research, and which encompasses social and dietary factors, a notion called the ‘exposome’. In this interview with Mediapart’s Jade Lindgaard, epidemiologist Paolo Vineis, one of Europe’s leading specialists on the subject, explains the umbrella approach of ‘exposomics’.       

  • An encounter - with a difference - with French film legend Jean-Luc Godard

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    Jean-Luc Godard, November 30th 2010 in Zurich. © Photo Fabrice Coffrini / AFP Jean-Luc Godard, November 30th 2010 in Zurich. © Photo Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

    The current wave of political, environmental and social upheavals appears to be marking the ending of an era across the Western world. Mediapart was keen to visit the legendary Franco-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard, whose films are an unrivalled chronicle of both the world's beauty and its problems, to get his take on events. However, nothing about the interview with the filmmaker at his home in Switzerland went exactly as planned. Ludovic Lamant and Jade Lindgaard describe the encounter that ensued.

  • Deaths in the Channel: the French agency fighting migrant trafficking gangs

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    An OCRIEST officer arresting a suspect during the search of an apartment in the Paris suburb of Viry-Chatillon, March 2014. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP An OCRIEST officer arresting a suspect during the search of an apartment in the Paris suburb of Viry-Chatillon, March 2014. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP

    On November 24th, at least 27 people died when their inflatable dinghy sank in the Channel as they attempted a clandestine crossing to the UK from France. Behind the crossings are highly organised criminal gangs which make vast profits from the migrant trafficking, even ordering container loads of small boats from China. They are the target of a dedicated French police agency called the OCRIEST, which is investigating last month’s tragedy. In this interview with Mediapart, its director, Xavier Delrieu, details how the gangs operate and the methods employed to dismantle them.

  • Saving biodiversity 'just as crucial' as tackling climate change, says French academic

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    Marine park at Tenia Island in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. © Photo Nicolas-Alain Petit / Biosphoto via AFP Marine park at Tenia Island in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. © Photo Nicolas-Alain Petit / Biosphoto via AFP

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which is currently holding its annual conference at Marseille in the south of France, has hit the headlines for its latest update on the number of animal species which face imminent extinction on the planet. But there are some experts who query whether the NGO's conserving strategy of preserving species in designated areas such as natural parks is the right one. Mediapart spoke with French geographer Estienne Rodary who argues that this modernist and colonial approach to the environment has become outdated in an inter-connected world. He says that the issues of biodiversity and climate change are interlinked and that when it comes to conserving nature the “carbon cost” of any policies needs to be taken into account. Amélie Poinssot reports.