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?

Russians on red alert as rouble is reinvented

Nerves are jangling in Russia over tomorrow's introduction of the new rouble. As Phil Reeves reports from Moscow, it comes at a jittery time.

Reagan Reborn: ... while Gorby gets the blame for everything

History, in all its perversity, could hardly have dealt two more different hands. While a befuddled Ronald Reagan totters towards republican sainthood, the man on the other side of the Cold War parapets, Mikhail Gorbachev, is held in about as much affection by his kith and kin as a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman at 6am on a Sunday morning.

Celebrity Advertising: There's no escape from the world of the global commercial

It is the year 2012. There is a Teletubbies revival and Baby Spice has just taken over as the new landlady of the Queen Vic Internet Salon in EastEnders. Tony Blair is still everywhere. He may no longer be Prime Minister but he appears regularly on our TV screens advertising a new chain of restaurants, Planet Politics. Having already done rather well out of endorsing private health care plans, he, Bill Clinton and Lionel Jospin have got together a nice little franchise in which you can eat turkey burgers - the last remaining cow was publicly executed several years ago amidst a display of digitally mastered world leaders.

Gorbachev is latest star in Pizza Hut TV ad

Politics is an unforgiving game. One day you are changing history, overseeing the end of the Cold War, bringing down the Berlin Wall and getting to keep the nuclear button by your bed. Next thing you know you're lining up with the likes of Pamela Anderson and Gareth Southgate to appear in a fast-food commercial.

Book: Tsar to commissar

A History of Twentieth-Century Russia by Robert Service Allen Lane, pounds 25; The terror may have vanished into history, but Communism still has a grip on Russian life

Why tomorrow should not be as predictable as Today

Who sets the agenda, the 'Today' programme or the politicians? Robert Hanks believes the Today team need to look beyond Westminster for some refreshment

Games: The Ignobel prizes

Last weekend, in a ceremony at Harvard University, the annual "Ig Nobel" Prizes were awarded. Named after Alfred Nobel's justly little- known brother Ignatius (allegedly the inventor of soda pop) the Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to academics whose works the other Nobel committee have chosen to IgNore. The Medicine prize, for example, went to two Wilkes University researchers for their discovery that listening to music in lifts stimulates the production of immunoglobin in the brain and thus may help prevent the common cold. The Economics prize went to the Japanese inventors of the Tamagotchi "for its contribution to economics by wasting millions of working hours".

Is aid to Russia academic?

As Blair and Yeltsin meet in Moscow, Peter Koenig asks if the pounds 4bn spent on Western consultants has been a good use of taxpayers' money

Eight centuries of the `wet' city

1147 (ish): Small outpost established on the banks of the marshy Moscow River. The name derives from an old Slavic word meaning "wet".

As the British mainland's most westerly arm, Ardnamurchan is off the tourist map. But for those who make the journey, writes Steve Crawshaw, the peninsula's natural beauty is matched only by its tranquillity

It seemed that Scottish holidays and I were not destined to be a happy match. Six years ago, what promised to be a blissful fortnight on the island of Arran was interrupted on the second day by the radio headlines, which woke us with annoyingly dramatic news. "The Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has been overthrown in a coup," I heard through my half-sleep. I was responsible for The Independent's coverage of Russia at the time. I told myself for as long as I could that it was probably just a dream. Eventually, however, I was forced to confront reality. By the time I stumbled downstairs, a message was lying on the kitchen table. "Please phone office urgently." Arran, it was nice to know you.

Freddie Starr ate your mortgage

Real celebrities in advertisements don't come cheap, but often they're worth it. So says Ron Mowlam, but he would, wouldn't he? By Serena Mackesy

A LAW UNTO HIMSELF

Adrian Turpin talks back to CLIVE ANDERSON

HIDDEN DEPTHS

Actor RUTGER HAUER talks with James Rampton

Blair bridges the divide

Lady Thatcher's invitation to No 10 reveals one big difference between her and the new occupant, says Donald Macintyre
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A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
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The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
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The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

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House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
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International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

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Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
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