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An election to the parliament of the federal state of Hesse was held on 28 October in Germany. The CDU – which has governed this federal state uninterruptedly since 1999 – maintained first position. The Christian Democrats led by Minister President Volker Bouffier garnered 27% of the votes, however, sustaining major losses when compared to the preceding election in 2013 (-11.3 percentage points). The Green Party and the SPD each had support of 19.8%.
The Western sanctions have proved painful for the Russian elite not only in terms of finance, but also of image and prestige. However, thanks to the EU's much softer sanctions policy compared to the US, the Russian oligarchs have still been able to conduct their business in Europe, either directly or through intermediaries. Since March 2014, the Kremlin has tried to compensate selected businessmen for at least some of the losses they have suffered.
On 18 October, the Helsinki District Court announced its long-awaited verdict in the case of Ilja Janitskin and Johan Bäckman. The former was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment, the latter to 12 months (suspended). The judgement is not final, and the defence has announced it will appeal. The period of almost one year in custody has been credited towards the imposed penalty on Janitskin.
Russia’s ostentatious return to Uzbekistan
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was on an official visit to Moldova on 17 and 18 October. During this visit he met, amongst others, with President Igor Dodon, Prime Minister Pavel Filip and the head of the governing Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc. He also took part in the official opening ceremony of the building of the presidential palace which had been renovated using Turkish money.
On 20 October, US President Donald Trump announced the US’s intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on the elimination of ground-launch ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of from 500 km to 5500 km. The reason given was that Russia had repeatedly violated the Treaty.
On 6 October Viktoria Marinova, a local journalist, was raped and murdered in the northern Bulgarian city of Ruse. Since the end of September Marinova had been hosting a local television programme dedicated to investigative journalism. Her first guests were members of a group of investigative journalists who, together with their Romanian colleagues, had been examining the embezzlement of EU funds by (among others) the Bulgarian construction company GP Group owned by Georgi Vasilev, an oligarch linked to various politicians.
On 15 October, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) decided to sever relations and eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (PC). This decision is a reaction to the decision by the Synod of Bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which on 11 October annulled its decision of 1686 to transfer the metropolis of Kiev to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and confirmed that it would continue to work for the establishment of an autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
The increased wave of migration from Ukraine to Poland which began in 2014 is slowly beginning to decelerate. This migration is still mainly temporary in nature, and it is difficult to assess to what extent it may become fully residential.
On 14 October residents of Bavaria, one of Germany’s richest federal states, elected 205 members of the local parliament. First place was once again taken - unalterably since 1954 - by the CSU, which garnered 37.2% of the votes. However, the support level for it fell as much as 10.4 percentage points as compared to 2013. Second place, with 17.5% support, was taken by the Green Party (+8.9 percentage points). The Free Voters (Freie Wähler, a party formed by independent candidates) was supported by 11.6% of residents of Bavaria (+2.6 percentage points).