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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
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Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

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Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride