In connection with the case of the Russian ship, Shtandart, very strange things are happening in La Rochelle. An intriguing character claiming to belong to French security services terrorizes the members of a Franco-Ukrainian couple to obtain information about a person they do not know. It needs to be checked whether this individual is mandated by his superiors or whether he is acting on his own initiative. One can even wonder if the spook is really a French intelligence person. These questions are sent to the « préfet » of Charente-Maritime.
To: Mr. Préfet of Charente-Maritime county
Préfecture de La Rochelle
38, rue Réaumur – CS 70000
17017 La Rochelle Cedex 1
CC: Monsieur le Maire de la Rochelle
Date: June 22, 2022
Subject: Intimidation attempt and potential usurpation of public authority in connection with the Russian ship « Shtandart » case.
From a third party, I learned that Mr. X*** and Y***, his Ukrainian wife, received, on June 15, 2022, in their restaurant in La Rochelle, the visit of Mr. A*** D*** claiming to be part of « Renseignements Généraux » (sic). He asked for information on a certain Bernard, myself, sympathizer of the Ukrainian cause having taken part in an open letter project concerning the presence of the Russian frigate Shtandart in your city.
I don’t know Monsieur and Madame X*** and Y***. I never met them. Alerted about this strange request, I contacted them on June 17, 2022. I had never exchanged with them until then. They were very shocked and alarmed by this incursion.The information, about the intrusion and request, was communicated to Mr. Oleksyi Goncharenko representing Odessa Oblast (region) in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukr parliament) and member of the permanent delegation of the Verkhovna Rada to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He mentioned it in a letter he sent to Mr. Jean-François Fountaine, mayor of La Rochelle.
Mr. A*** D*** demanded that I call him back on 06 01 ** ** **. I did not. Since 2014, I have always been cautious for any issue related to the Russian or pro-Russian sphere.Especially since, according to various testimonies, Mr. L*** P*** boasted of having support within the police and within the DGSI.
- I have no proof of the allegations of this person as to the reality of his name and as to the reality of his employment at the DGSI (Security and counter-terrorism department). Especially since all the information about me is available online.
- This seemed to me to be part of a strategy of escalation and intimidation, contrary to the exchange of the Ukrainian delegation with a representative of the La Rochelle municipality on June 13, 2022. It was understood that pending a meeting at the beginning of the following week, the open letter would not be published. For its part, the municipality undertook to carry out a certain number of verifications in response to the concerns shared by the delegation.
I regret the abuse of authority revealed by the method employed. I consider it inconsistent with the right to privacy. I consider it as undermining my reputation, by the illegitimate suspicions it generates towards me. I judge it inappropriate in the present circumstances as well as disloyal to the positions of the municipality of La Rochelle. I will nevertheless respond to any written (only) request from you.
On the other hand, if Mr. A*** D***’s approach, provided that it is indeed his name, is a personal initiative, I ask you to keep me informed, without delay, about the sanctions that you will take against him.
In addition, you will kindly confirm to me that he does in fact work for the DGSI. In the event that he does not work for the DGSI, you will report to me on how you intend to apply Article 433-12 relating to the usurpation of public authority:
« Is punished by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros the fact, by any person acting without title, of interfering in the exercise of a public function by performing one of the acts reserved for the holder of this function ».Article 433-12
Please accept, Monsieur Préfet, the expression of my respectful greetings.
Bernard Grua, Nantes
NB: This letter will be made public.