Voices Pope Francis: 'I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it'

Is he doomed to play the role of Mikhail Gorbachev to an organisation long as secretive as the Kremlin?

The eye of the storm: Speakes in the White House in 1982

Larry Speakes: Press secretary to Ronald Reagan who later admitted he had put words into the president’s mouth

An assassination attempt plunged Larry Speakes into the brightest of national spotlights as chief spokesman for President Ronald Reagan. When Reagan’s press secretary James Brady was severely wounded in the 1981 attempt on the president’s life, Speakes was thrust into the eye of the storm. As White House spokesman for six years, a long tenure in the sensitive post, he was credited with 2,000 news media briefings.

So how many Nobel prizes does it take to fill a Mazda?

The Japanese car group is on a sales drive that has zoomed out of left field, says Laura Chesters
the classified document outlines a highly-sensitive inquiry into the claims that the elderly Nazi was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets

Adolf Hitler's Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess ‘murdered by British agents’ to stop him spilling wartime secrets

Surgeon claims Hess was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets

Gyula Horn: Politician who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Gyula Horn: Politician who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Gyula Horn was the last Communist Foreign Minister of Hungary, who started opening the Iron Curtain. On 27 June 1989 he joined Alois Mock, the Austrian Foreign Minister, to pull down a section of the barbed wire dividing their countries. During the following months thousands of East Germans used the route to emigrate to Austria and West Germany. It was the beginning of the end for East German Communism. In Hungary Horn is better known for a massive austerity programme when he was Prime Minister in 1995. The package sparked massive opposition.

Postcard from... Berlin

Alexander Lebedev appears in court over punching property tycoon Sergei Polonsky on Russian television show

Alexander Lebedev, the Russian businessman whose family owns The Independent, appeared in a Moscow courtroom today to hear charges read against him that could land him in prison for up to five years.

Kravchuk, Shushkevich and Yeltsin sign the agreement

Reds not dead? Document that dissolved the Soviet Union goes missing

The historic document that heralded the collapse of the Soviet Union has gone missing from an archive in Belarus, according to one of its signatories.

Former Soviet KGB Leonid Shebarshin found dead in apparent suicide

Commemorative gun and diary revealing health problems found near body

The latest polls suggest Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, will win Sunday’s presidential poll

Mary Dejevsky: Russia is changing and Putin must, too

The first complete book that any British student of Russian is likely to read in the original is Fathers and Sons, a novel by Ivan Turgenev. There are all sorts of reasons why that might be.

When the empire crumbled: 20 years after the Soviet coup

When the Soviet Union collapsed 20 years ago, Mary Dejevsky was struck by the bravery and optimism she saw on the streets of Moscow. Now she asks, why has Russia failed to live up to the West's expectations?

Leading article: Presidents past

US Independence Day was marked in London with the unveiling of a 10ft bronze statue of the late US President, Ronald Reagan, outside the US embassy. To which there is only one rational response: why? At least it was not funded by the British taxpayer. On the other hand, if the project had depended on British money, there might well have been no statue at all. The only home-grown contribution was Westminster Council's decision to waive a rule that requires someone to have been dead for 10 years before qualifying for a public statue. Which prompts thoughts about who might justifiably qualify for such a dispensation. How about Mikhail Gorbachev – the man who really ended the Cold War?

Elena Bonner: Soviet dissident and human rights activist who campaigned alongside her husband, Andrei Sakharov

Born in Merv, Central Asia, in 1923, a wartime nurse and physician by profession, Elena Bonner was known internationally as a human rights activist in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and the wife of Andrei Sakharov, the most prestigious and influential of dissidents.

Gordon McLennan: Political activist who led the Communist Party of Great Britain but was unable to prevent its demise

Gordon McLennan was the last of the old style working-class Communist general secretaries to lead the British party, at a time which would see it split as hardline traditionalists fought progressive euro-communists over which direction it should take.

Our lessons in power

What can we learn from some of the 20th century's most noted leaders? And what message do Clinton, Gorbachev et al have for future heads of state? Brian Michael Till gets the word from the top

Cannes Diary: How Jodie got her man

Jodie Foster said yesterday it was "natural" for her to ask Mel Gibson to star in The Beaver. She said: "I've been friends with Mel for over 15 years and we've had many, many long discussions about life and so it was a natural place to go."

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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