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Kleintje Pils say the performance will be a 'signal'

Sun, sea and palm trees at Nauru in the South Pacific

Nauru and Abkhazia: One is a destitute microstate marooned in the South Pacific, the other is a disputed former Soviet Republic 13,000km away, so why are they so keen to be friends?

Russia wants the world to recognise a breakaway state, but it needs other nations (big or small) to lend support. Where in the world could it find allies?

Boats are seen on a frozen stretch of theRiver Danube in the Serbian capital,Belgrade, yesterday. Army explosives teams have begun using dynamite to break up ice floes up to half a metre thick

Cold down the river Danube

Hundreds of miles of Europe's busiest waterway are frozen solid – and from Bavaria to Bulgaria, the continent's economy is seizing up too. Tony Paterson reports from Berlin

A man walks along the frozen River Neris in Vilnius, Lithuania, yesterday as temperatures plummet to -30C (-22F)

Thirty degrees below – and at least a hundred dead: Europe's big freeze

With record snowfalls, icy winds, and thousands of people trapped in remote villages, much of Central and Eastern Europe is in the grip of a cold snap that has caused more than 100 deaths. Temperatures in parts of Ukraine and other Eastern European countries are hovering around -30C (-22F).

Gas pipeline plan given green light by Turkey

Turkey has given it the go-ahead for the construction of a gas pipeline under the Black Sea, Russia's energy giant Gazprom said.

The mohawked Neymar is proving to be a paparazzi dream in Brazil

Pioneers head east in game's latest gold rush as football opens up final frontiers

From Siberia and the Middle East to China, Rory Smith follows the trail of vast fortunes

Russia gets its skis on

Winter sports

BP frozen out of Arctic drilling as Rosneft turns to ExxonMobil

BP was left out in the cold yesterday after its US rival ExxonMobil struck an agreement to explore Russia's oil-rich Arctic continental shelf with Rosneft, moving in just months after the collapse of a similar pact between the state energy giant and the UK group.

Greece: The man who fell for Mani's charms

Travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died last week, called this Peloponnese peninsula home. <b>Andrew Eames</b> makes a pilgrimage

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor

Paddy Leigh Fermor (obituary, 11 June) was a man of many dimensions, writes Patrick Reade. He had an unquenchable curiosity about people and culture; when he met remote groups, be they Saxons in Transylvania, Vlachs in northern Greece or gypsies in Hungary, he would not just learn their language and song but remember it for the rest of his life. At Paddy's last birthday party in London, William Blacker quoted two lines of a Romanian ballad in a speech about him; at the age of 96 Paddy sang the song in its entirety. There seemed no occasion at which he could not enliven the party by an adroit performance, or reminisce in half a dozen European languages.

Bulgaria's jet-powered tourist drive

The private plane of Todor Zhivkov, the late Bulgarian communist ruler, was submerged in the Black Sea waters near the city of Varna this week to attract scuba divers and tourists to the sunny coasts of north-eastern Bulgaria.

Jason and the argot: land where Greek's ancient language survives

An isolated community near the Black Sea coast in a remote part of north-eastern Turkey has been found to speak a Greek dialect that is remarkably close to the extinct language of ancient Greece.

Leading article: Not such a dead language

It is a taunt that anyone who has ever studied classical languages will have heard: What's the point? Where are you going to speak Latin or ancient Greek? Well that argument loses a little of its force with the identification of a small community in northern Turkey that converses in a Greek dialect that seems intriguingly similar to the language of Pericles, Plato and Socrates.

Turkish landslides after heavy rain kill 12

At least 12 people were killed by landslides after torrential rain swept northern Turkey.

Simon Hughes, Lib Dem with a licence to attack

He has become the outspoken voice of the Liberal Democrat left – yesterday calling for the party's MPs to be given the power of veto over contentious Coalition policy proposals.

Book Of A Lifetime: Danube, By Claudio Magris

The Balkans shaped the opening and close of our last century, but for poorly prepared Westerners they remain, even now, a distant cauldron into which we like to toss our prejudices, ignorance and jokes; an indeterminate, Ruritanian region, full of people with names like Zog and nowhere better evoked than in the novels of John Buchan and Dornford Yates. Asked in 1921 to consider an invitation to become king of Albania, Lord Inchape is supposed to have stared at the motorcyclist who brought him the urgent message, and replied: "Where is it?" (He declined on the grounds "It's not in my line."). Nor does prejudice vanish on the ground. "Who ever saw a green horse or an intelligent Serb?" is a Romanian proverb of lengthy stock.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there