Voices

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.

Nikolai Baibakov: Stalin's oil commissar

If ever there was a round peg in a Soviet round hole, it was Nikolai Baibakov, who served as commissar for the oil industry under Joseph Stalin and was later in charge of general economic planning in the Soviet Union. He was born in 1911 in Sabunchi, near the Caspian city of Baku, the original source of the oil that has sustained so much of the Russian economy for a century, the place where Alfred Nobel and the Yusupovs became even richer, and Stalin's own proving ground as an apprentice revolutionary in 1905.

Steve Richards: If you want to understand politics, just examine the explosive education debate

Mr Balls is accused of being a Stalinist for enforcing a law supported by the Conservatives

You write the reviews: Year of the Rat, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Written by Roy Smiles and directed by Alan Strachan, Year of the Rat depicts a fictional encounter between George Orwell, Cyril Connolly and Sonia Brownell on the Scottish island of Jura. Close friends, Connolly and Brownell were in London working on Horizon magazine (a literary "shop window") during Orwell's self-imposed exile on Jura. His bad health had forced him to convalesce, and writing Nineteen Eighty-Four required time and solitude.

Scores of civilians and US military staff feared dead as huge Albanian arms dump explodes

Scores of people, including US military staff, are feared to have died after a Soviet-era munitions dump exploded at an Albanian army base yesterday. The blast injured more than 240 people, including many children – and the country's Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, said he believed the death toll could be considerable.

Brazil's leftist president re-elected in landslide

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was re-elected in a landslide last night as Brazilians rewarded their first working class leader for helping ease grinding poverty and improving the economy of Latin America's largest nation.

If you are dreading a month of football, read on...

There have been lamentably few escape routes over the years for the long-suffering World Cup widow. Separate homes is an option for some, but too expensive for most.

Leading article: A bigger Europe has not made sweeter music

Pity the poor people of Liechstenstein. They, along with the Czech Republic, have never submitted an entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, apparently because of a lack of available musical talent. Those who watched the contest this weekend could be forgiven for wondering how bad this paucity of musicianship must be.

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newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
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news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
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Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
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Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
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Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
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people
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn