Former Kremlin insider reveals Putin’s system of corruptionSergei 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 downfallSergei 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 FranceVladimir 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 causesPaolo 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’.
Jean-Luc Godard: his last interview with MediapartJean-Luc Godard, November 30th 2010 in Zurich. © Photo Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Widely acclaimed French-Swiss cinema director Jean-Luc Godard, regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation, and a major figure of France’s New Wave cinema movement, died in Switzerland on Tuesday in an assisted suicide at the age of 91. Late last year he gave a rare interview to Mediapart’s Ludovic Lamant and Jade Lindgaard, who travelled to meet him at his home in Switzerland, when nothing went quite as had been planned, and which we republish here.
Deaths in the Channel: the French agency fighting migrant trafficking gangsAn 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 academicMarine 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.
‘You live through unimaginable events’: prosecutor François Molins on the November 2015 Paris terror attacksFrançois Molins, June 2021. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart
The trial of 20 people accused of various roles in the series of terrorist attacks in Paris during the evening of November 13th 2015, which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded more than 400 others, opens on Wednesday. In this interview with Mediapart's Matthieu Suc, the public prosecutor then in charge of the investigations, François Molins, recalls the night of the attacks, the aftermath and distress for victims’ families, and reflects on the successes and failures of France’s efforts to counter terrorism.
Historicizing evil: the story behind a new translation of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’
Adolf Hitler’s notorious, two-volume manifesto Mein Kampf was published in France last month in a scholarly version, heavily annotated by a team of historians, destined as a work of academic reference that analyses and explains the contexts, notably historical and cultural, of the hate-filled text. Olivier Mannoni is the German-to-French translator of this revised version of Hitler’s rantings, and here he tells Santiago Artozqui of the challenges of working for nine years on the “sticky, vile, deceitful, paranoiac and violent text”, and how the rigour of the historians gave a “solidity” and “reassuring stability” to his work.
French study identifies further grave illnesses linked to chemical pesticidesA farmer in the Sarthe département (county) of north-west France, filling up his crop dusting machine with a glyphosate product for use on his maize fields, April 2021. © Jean-François Monier / AFP
France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, INSERM, has published a report on its studies into the use of pesticides and the increasing evidence of their causal effect on grave pathologies, including cancers, among farmers and also among children. Amélie Poinssot interviews toxicologist Xavier Coumoul, a co-author of the report.