French officials probe man who toppled Paris mayor hopeful

The Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday it has opened investigations into a controversial Russian performance artist who claimed responsibility for releasing sex videos that brought down a high-profile candidate for Paris mayor.

Pyotr Pavlensky, a refugee, is also being investigated over a separate case involving “violence with a weapon” on New Year’s Eve. French news media report Pavlensky allegedly drew a knife during a dispute at a Paris apartment in which two people were hurt.

Pavlensky and his girlfriend are in jail. The prosecutor's office said it is pushing for a custody extension.

Benjamin Griveaux, the mayoral candidate for President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party, stepped aside after the scandal over the leaked explicit video of him erupted in French media last week.

Rapid expressions of support for Griveaux, even from political rivals, were a striking reminder of the longstanding and widely held view in France that public servants' private lives are largely off limits.

Critics, though, say Pavlensky's case is being politicized because Griveaux was Macron's candidate.

Former Health Minister Agnes Buzyn was selected to replace Griveaux as candidate in the two-round election that begins in a month.