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
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape