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Ukraine’s Elections Mark a Break With Putin’s Russia

On Oct. 26, voters in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections cemented their nation’s turn away from Russia, handing an overwhelming majority to champions of integration with the West. President Petro Poroshenko, the billionaire who vaulted to power after this year’s revolution, announced after the vote that three-quarters of the electorate had “shown firm and irreversible support for Ukraine’s course toward Europe.”

That meant a rebuke to the pro-Russian forces in parliament–and they have Russian President Vladimir Putin to blame for their defeat. In the months since the February revolution overthrew his allies in Ukraine, Putin has alienated millions of Ukrainian voters who previously supported close ties with Moscow. Polls show that his decision to annex the region of Crimea in March awakened an unprecedented hatred toward Russia in Ukraine. His subsequent support for Ukrainian separatists, who are still fighting to turn the country’s eastern provinces into protectorates of Moscow, sealed the divide between these once fraternal nations.

The only party that made it into parliament with a promise to repair ties with Moscow was the Opposition Bloc, which secured less than 10% of the vote. Just a year ago, its politicians were part of the ruling coalition in the national legislature. The leader of that coalition, Viktor Yanukovych, had enough support in the Russian-speaking half of the country to win the Ukrainian presidential race in 2010. But the revolution that forced him to flee to Russia in February also discredited his Party of Regions, which was so certain of defeat in the latest parliamentary race that it decided to sit out the contest.

Putin’s chances of legally restoring his allies to power in Ukraine now look more dismal than ever, as do his dreams of forming a new political union made up of the biggest former Soviet states. He has, however, managed to hold on to a consolation prize: the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where armed pro-Russian militias have managed in the past six months to carve out breakaway republics along the Russia-Ukraine border.

With Moscow’s support, these rebel leaders prevented the parliamentary vote from being held in the territories they control. Instead, they plan to hold their own elections in November to formalize their split from the rest of the country. Poroshenko, who was elected in May on a promise to end the war with the separatists, has granted them broad autonomy as part of a cease-fire agreement signed in September. Hard-liners and nationalists condemned him over that decision. But now, in the wake of the parliamentary elections, it seems a small price to pay for the consensus that has emerged in Ukraine behind his pro-European agenda.


‘I haven’t had time to read anything in the last two years.’

FLEUR PELLERIN, French Culture Minister, making an awkward confession during a televised interview on Oct. 26, after she could not name any works by the French author Patrick Modiano, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature weeks earlier. “I read a lot of notes, a lot of legal texts, the news, wire stories, but [for pleasure] I read very little,” she said.



The World Economic Forum ranked 142 countries based on disparities between men and women in income and other factors. Below, a sampling, from most to least equal:

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Packing Up

AFGHANISTAN British troops board a Hercules aircraft on Oct. 27, a day after formally giving Afghan forces control of Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan. Their exit coincided with the departure of U.S. Marines from the adjacent Camp Leatherneck and came as most foreign forces prepare to leave the country this year, ending a campaign against the Taliban that began with the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.


Europe’s Stressed-Out Banks

A continent-wide test of the health of over 100 banks found that all but 24 had enough capital to withstand a severe economic downturn. Regulators hope the assessment boosts investor confidence in Europe, where the economy remains in the doldrums.

Red flags

Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, was among nine Italian lenders that failed the checkup. Three each in Greece and Cyprus also came up short in the tests conducted by the European Banking Authority.

Silver linings

Europe’s largest banks passed the stress tests. Moreover, of the 24 that failed, many had raised money in the months after testing began; had they been tested with the additional funds factored in, only 14 would have failed.

What’s next

The assessment came as the European Central Bank, headed by Mario Draghi, prepares to take over supervision of Europe’s largest banks from national regulators on Nov. 4, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.



Number of children living in poverty in the developed world, according to UNICEF; some 2.6 million of them fell below the poverty line in the past five years

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