Vladimir Putin played the role of the good tsar at his annual press conference, fielding questions, repeated declarations of grateful praise and requests to deal with unscrupulous businessmen and lazy bureaucrats. One excited journalist even credited him with an improvement in her love life, noting that she had “finally gotten married” shortly after meeting him in March.

The designer rebel who slept in our spare room: Julie Burchill brought white bread, old-fashioned values and angst when she moved in with her in-laws. Jay Landesman remembers

Jay Landesman, 73, came from St Louis, Missouri. He ran a night-club there which made its name with early performances by Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand. For 30 years he has lived in north London with his wife, the poet Fran Landesman, establishing a place on the London literary and cultural scene as author, publisher and raconteur. Along the way he also acquired a lethal daughter-in-law . . .

Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Stalin was a jolly man, but a bit sarcastic

SVETLANA Alliluyeva, 67, only daughter of the dictator, Joseph Stalin, and now living on charity at a home for elderly women in north London, refused to see her Russian cousins who were visiting the capital last week. She sent them a brief note saying merely that she was 'indisposed'. Her first cousin, Kyra Politskaya, 73, and Olga Alliluyeva, 38, her first cousin-once- removed, said Svetlana's response was not unexpected. The two women were discreet about their feelings, but I believe they were disappointed that on their first visit to London, Svetlana had chased them away.

Communists bungle Gorbachev's show trial

IT HAS come to this: Russia's cranky Communists cannot even organise a decent show trial any more.

BOOK REVIEW / Peeled eggs and a mania for the telephone: 'Fear' - Anatoli Rybakov Tr. Antonina W Bouis: Hutchinson, 15.99 pounds

ANATOLI RYBAKOV'S epic saga unfolds in the recriminatory atmosphere of Stalin's purges, where the lives of millions of Soviet citizens were 'broken like eggs' for the dictator's cannibal feast. In Fear, the sequel to his earlier novel, Children of the Arbat (written in 1966 but not published until 1987), Rybakov takes up the story of Sasha Pankratov, a young engineering student, who has been exiled to Siberia on trumped up charges of counter-revolutionary activity.

Letter: Churchill's efforts to end the Cold War

Sir: The orthodox and correct reply to the revisionist theory that Winston Churchill should have made peace with Hitler in 1941 is that any terms then obtainable would have left Britain and her humbly preserved Empire at the mercy of an all-powerful conqueror whose readiness to tear up pieces of paper at a moment's notice was a matter of record and prediction. To seek peace in 1941 would have been to offer total

Obituary: Charles Tillon

Charles Joseph Tillon, politician, born Rennes 3 July 1897, Minister of Aviation 1945-46, Minister of Armaments 1946-47, Minister of Reconstruction 1947, died Marseilles 13 January 1993.

Former education chief criticises 'cavalier policy'

THE FORMER chief inspector of schools yesterday attacked the Government's education policy as 'cavalier in the extreme', and warned against increased political control over the curriculum.

Cunhal bows out

LISBON (AFP) - The Portuguese Communist Party's leader, Alvaro Cunhal, is to step down after 30 years as secretary-general of Europe's last Stalinist party at its 14th Congress today. Mr Cunhal, 79, said he had grown too old, but is expected to be elected president of the party's national council - a body due to be set up by the congress.

RECORDS / DOUBLE PLAY: Supporting the reds and the blues: Edward Seckerson and Stephen Johnson compare notes on recordings of Prokofiev and Gershwin

PROKOFIEV: Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution. The Stone Flower - excerpts

BETWEEN THE LINES / Actor Jack Klaff remembers a Russian reaction to Bulgakov

'Our government has created a society in which it is not possible for someone to live for other people.'

Jaruzelski in 'shoot to kill' trial

WARSAW (AP) - General Wojciech Jaruzelski testified yesterday at an inquiry into whether his interior minister ordered striking miners shot, as Poland pursues leaders of the old Communist regime.

Mongolia mass graves found

ULAN BATOR (Reuter) - Mongolian historians have discovered and excavated a second mass grave of Buddhist monks executed during a Stalinist reign of terror that took place in the late 1930s.

Obituary: Auguste Lecoeur

Auguste Lecoeur, politician, author and historian, born Lille France 4 September 1911, died Crissey France 26 July 1992.

The party is not yet over: Yesterday, hearings resumed in Moscow on the legality of Boris Yeltsin's ban against the Communist Party. One of the key witnesses will be Roy Medvedev. Here he explains why the President is in the wrong

In the opening days of the hearings, there were a lot of tendentious speeches, with both sides missing the point. The Constitutional Court called upon the Communist Party lawyers and Boris Yeltsin's representatives to present their case from a juridical standpoint, not a political one, but neither side has so far complied.

The writing all over Stalin's walls: Archives now reveal exactly how the dictator used buildings as propaganda, overwhelming citizens with power-architecture, writes Jonathan Glancey

SOVIET archives are suddenly in the news, most prominently because David Irving, the right-wing apologist for Hitler, has been transcribing for the Sunday Times diaries by Goebbels that have been stored in Moscow.
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