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.

Egypt's Army Chief and Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, right, walks with Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Red carpet for Russians fuels speculation over Egypt's US alliance

Some analysts interpret Moscow delegation's trip as a shot across Washington's bows

Women's football: Birmingham Ladies make debut on St Andrew's turf

Birmingham City Ladies will make history this evening when they appear at St Andrew's for the first time for the second leg of their Women's Champions League last-16 tie.

Rachael Neustadt with her children, from left, Meir, Jonathan and Daniel

Mother Rachael Neustadt’s fight to return sons from Russia blocked by Moscow court

A former teacher whose Russian ex-husband refused to return their two sons after they went for a visit to Russia has suffered a setback in her landmark legal fight to win them back.

Alvaro Negredo tucks home City’s third

Manchester City 5 CSKA Moscow 2 match report: Alvaro Negredo hat-trick and Sergio Aguero double sends City through and Russian fans packing

Ever since Malcolm Allison declared that his club would now hurl themselves on “the cowards of Europe” and promptly got himself knocked out in the first round by Fenerbahce, the European Cup has cast its shadow over Manchester City.

Putin is a 'proud buff dude' and Russia should not be vilified for anti-gay laws ahead of Sochi Olympic Games, says US swimmer

Richard Alther appeals to Russia President to treat gay athletes with compassion and respect

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s father arrives in Moscow

Lon Snowden expresses gratitude to Russia and Putin for providing safe haven to the NSA whistleblower

Book review: One Night in Winter, By Simon Sebag Montefiore

Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, the author of two books on Stalinist Russia, has also turned his hand to fiction. Inspired by "several true stories", this latest novel revisits Moscow during the last years of Stalin, the Red Tsar – an era characterised by paranoia and high-level betrayals. As the book's epilogue reminds us, "the familiar dilemmas of family life, the prizes and perils of children, adultery and career, have higher stakes than if the story was set in Hampstead."

'I must go': Elton John is due to perform in Moscow and Kazan
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is protesting against “slave labour”

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova goes on hunger strike in jail

A jailed member of the punk band Pussy Riot has launched a hunger strike to protest against living conditions in prison which she says “treat women like cattle”.

Armed Russian security officers storm Greenpeace ship and hold 30 activists at gunpoint, environmental group says

Activists have issued a plea to Vladimir Putin to order the Coast Guard - a branch of Russia's Federal Security Service - to 'holster their guns'

Farah is the current Olympic and world champion in the 5,000m and 10,000m

Mo Farah thinks about going for golden treble in Rio

Mo Farah could conceivably target a golden treble at the next Olympics, according to the great Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie.

A psychiatric hospital was destroyed by fire in the Novgorod region town of Luka.

Thirty-seven die as 19th Century wooden psychiatric hospital in Russia burns down

Fire is thought to have been caused by a patient either smoking or setting himself alight

Alexei Navalny speaks to the press outside his headquarters in Moscow, Russia

Moscow mayor election: Defeat for Vladimir Putin’s biggest rival Alexei Navalny may yet be a pivotal moment

Anti-corruption candidate sought votes by attacking Russia’s president

Opposition candidate in Moscow mayoral election, Alexei Navalny

Moscow mayor election: Alexei Navalny demands new vote after losing to Vladimir Putin's key ally Sergei Sobyanin

Allegations of 'clear falsifications'  by the Putin-backed incumbent lead to calls for a run-off vote and threats of public protest

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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
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
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
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
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
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little