Travel Passengers dine in the restaurant car of the Red Arrow to St Petersburg

For 150 years the railway line between Moscow and St Petersburg ran as straight as an arrow for 403 miles. Straight, but for one big bend near Novgorod. The story goes that Tsar Nicholas was so fed up of officials dithering over the route that he plonked a ruler on the map and drew a straight line between the two cities, accidentally drawing around his finger in the process. Too terrified to point out his error, the builders constructed the railway with the Tsar's bump in place.

Edward Snowden said that he will not be able to return to the US while 'there's no chance to have a fair trial'

Edward Snowden US return: Government hints at possible plea bargain to see fugitive NSA contractor come back from Russia

But the whistleblower says he cannot go home when there’s ‘no chance to have a fair trial’

People look at an 'Upside Down House' attraction displayed at the VVTs the All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow

'Upside Down House'

Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after not being given access to medical treatment

Sergei Magnitsky - the final insult: Russia continues to 'desecrate the memory' of the whistleblower lawyer

First he was imprisoned. There he died after being denied medical treatment. Then he was put on posthumous trial. Now the Russian lawyer who dared to expose a £140m fraud is accused of perpetrating the crime himself

Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin visited Sochi earlier this year

Putin’s charm offensive is about more than just the Sochi Winter Olympics

Russia wants and needs help with major modernisation, not just in the energy sector, but with all kinds of capital projects

Maria Alyokhina, the Pussy Riot member who was released under an amnesty today, speaks on the phone to denounce her newfound freedom as a 'PR stunt'

Two jailed members of Pussy Riot Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova released from prison following Russian government amnesty

Alyokhina said the amnesty was a ‘PR stunt’ and she would have stayed in prison if she could

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at his annual press conference in Moscow on 19 December 2013

President Putin backs NSA surveillance as 'necessary' to fight terrorism

But government needs to 'limit appetite' of agency with clear ground rules

Ukrainian protesters shout slogans during a mass opposition rally in Independence Square in Kiev

Russia bails out Ukraine for $15bn – but deal triggers street protests in Kiev

The two countries’ leaders reached agreement at talks in the Kremlin that appeared to begin frostily but ended with them laughing at a ceremony where documents were signed on reducing trade barriers

An estimated 200,000 anti-government demonstrators converge on Independence Square in central Kiev

EU halts Ukraine talks over ‘unrealistic’ demands

Arguments and demands of president and his government “have no grounds in reality”

Red Fortress, By Catherine Merridale: Book review

The corridors of Russian power are studied through the history of the Kremlin

Lloyd Cowan (right) speaks with Toni Minichiello, coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill

Ashling O'Connor: Behind every great athlete is a great coach, but these unsung heroes seldom get the recognition – or the cash support – they deserve

Volunteer coaches provide time worth £7.9bn a year, based on the minimum wage

Keeping the Litvinenko papers secret will smooth the path of one possible Putin successor

Putin's chief of staff Sergei Ivanov was well known to the murdered double-agent

Review: Tatiana, By Martin Cruz Smith

Having survived the KGB and a bullet to the head, detective Renko is going strong

A migrant worke's family at their home in the Tajik capital Dushanbe

Wives appeal to Tajikistan authorities and Moscow to send their rogue husbands home

Wayward migrant workers abandon desperate families in former republics

Donna Bull, 53, was among the 50 people who died when a Boeing 737 crash landed in Russia. She was in the country on a 10 day work trip

Russian plane crash: Briton among 50 killed as Boeing 737 bursts into flames on landing

The Tatarstan Airlines plane was making a second attempt to land when it exploded, killing 50, including British woman Donna Bull

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic torch relay

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic torch relay

En route to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, the torch relay through Russia passed members of the Nivkh ethnic group.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Career Services

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
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn