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.

Some novels have fewer equals than others

`Animal Farm' was published 50 years ago today. With Communism dead, is this classic political satire still relevant?



Ernest Mandel

As someone who heard Ernest Mandel speak on a number of occasions, I am surprised at Ken Coates's obituary of him [28 July], writes Keith Flett.

Theatre TAKING SIDES Criterion, London

Think about it. If Shostakovich had been German instead of Russian, if instead of The Sun Shines Bright Over Our Motherland he had written a cantata called Die Sonne scheint uber unserem Vaterland, would it be performed now? Almost certainly not. And if at the end of his life he had produced a book called Testimony in which he claimed that every time he had seemed to be praising the Nazi regime he had really been subverting it (as every true German would have understood), what would the world say? Probably something like "Pull the other one" - though perhaps a bit more strongly worded.

Red gums

Alexei Doinikov, former chief dentist to the Kremlin, has admitted that Josef Stalin had only three of his own teeth left when he died in 1953.

OBITUARIES Milovan Djilas

To those of a certain sensibility, and age, Milovan Djilas gave Marxism a moral perspective absent from the Communism of Stalin, writes Jack Adrian [further to the obituary by Christopher Russell, 21 April].

LETTER : Labour's `Stalinist' approach to the unions

From Mr Geoff Martin

BOOK REVIEW : Invasion of the jitterbuggers




It's got everything except independence

Tatarstan could be another Chechnya. But the republic has food for stomachs, not stomach for war, writes Simon Calder LOST NATIONS

Liquidation of a Soviet gull D C Watt on some great minds that were seduced into supporting Stalin

He cannot admit the appeal of what Stalin perverted

Stalinist tendency rattles German former Communists

Just a few months ago, the former Communists of East Germany were popping champagne corks to celebrate successes in the parliamentary elections in October.

Letter: Threatened by linguistic Stalinism

Sir: It seems the Conservatives - the self-proclaimed party of the individual, of personal responsibility - are now going to tell us how to speak. The arguments marshalled by Susan Elkin in favour of this ('Prisoners of incomprehensible English', 17 October), however, bear further scrutiny.

Blow up the Duke of Sutherland, but leave his limbs among the heather

THEY want to blow up the Duke of Sutherland. As the papers reported last week, a group of Highland radicals have asked Highland Regional Council to destroy the statue of the first Duke of Sutherland, a sandstone colossus which is 100ft high with its plinth and stands on a 1,300ft mountain. They say he was an enemy of the human race, like Hitler or Stalin.

Obituary: Leonid Leonov

Leonid Maximovich Leonov, novelist and playwright; born Moscow 31 May 1899; died 8 August 1994.
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Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
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Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

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Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
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Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
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Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
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Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
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Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why