News Curwen: Oleg Gordievsky called him and his colleagues 'the real defenders of democracy'

Head of MI6 whose achievements included bringing the double agent Oleg Gordievsky out of the Soviet Union

Putin's income is 'modest'

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earns £90,000 a year and owns one home – a small apartment in his home town – an official income statement claims.

Being Modern: Group discounts

"Zookeeper challenge, £179." "Tickets to Dinosaurs Unleashed, £17." "One dozen cupcakes, £6.50..." They come to your inbox in groups of three. At first, you can't quite be sure what they are. All your device tells you is that you have a new email. How quickly you will become used to the disappointment of finding out that you've received another message from one of those discount websites you signed up to.

Rwandan assassin 'sent to kill dissidents in UK'

Met warns that Kagame regime may be plotting to kill two men

Farewell, Christian Carion, 113 mins (12A)<br/>Insidious, James Wan, 102 mins (15)

The spy who came in for some cold champagne

Presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevic flees Belarus following KGB torture

Ales Mikhalevic, a prominent Belarusian presidential candidate who testified publicly that he was tortured in KGB custody, has fled the country, The Independent has learned.

'My husband phoned to say he was going to the sauna...we never saw him again'

Anatoly Krasovsky is one of many Belarus dissidents to have vanished under Europe's 'last dictatorship'. Jerome Taylor reports

Vladimir Putin and the people

Russia's Prime Minister is feared in the West &ndash; but adored at home, says Mary Dejevsky. Is the reason we don't trust him that we don't really understand him?

Ex-KGB agent sues MI5 over 'privacy breach'

A former senior KGB agent is suing MI5 over invasion of his privacy, alleging his family members were victims of a campaign of harassment and unlawful surveillance.

Germany launches inquiry into 'poisoning' of ex-KGB agent

German state prosecutors yesterday said they had opened a preliminary investigation to establish whether a dissident former Russian KGB Colonel and his wife who emigrated to Berlin three months ago had been poisoned.

Vatican says leaks do not reflect views of Holy See

The Vatican described the most recent leaks from US cables yesterday as a matter of "extreme seriousness". The cables from the US embassy at the Vatican describe its leadership as out of touch, and criticise their refusal to allow officials to testify before an Irish commission investigating child abuse by clerics. Cables have revealed that information requested by the 2009 Murphy Commission – which reported on allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church in Dublin – "offended many in the Vatican", who felt that the Irish government had "failed to respect and protect Vatican sovereignty during the investigations".

Kremlin 'must have known' about plot to kill Litvinenko

The murder of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was likely to have been carried out with Vladimir Putin's knowledge, according to the US's most senior diplomat in Europe.

William Hague warms up Russian relations

Britain and Russia "have had some serious differences" in the past but should seek to resolve their issues through "dialogue and diplomacy", Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday as he sought to rebuild the UK's battered relationship with Moscow.

Agents expelled from the US join Putin for a patriotic singalong

Vladimir Putin has met with the Russian spies who were expelled from the United States, and sung patriotic songs with them. The Russian Prime Minister said that the spy ring had been betrayed by "traitors", who would probably end up "in the gutter".

New Russian law revives sweeping KGB powers

A new law which gives Russian security services sweeping powers to question people about crimes that have not yet been committed is being criticised by human rights activists as a dangerous return to the era of the KGB.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
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Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

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Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
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Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
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No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
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Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
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Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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'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

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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?

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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