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.

Kremlin ally Sergei Sobyanin won a Moscow mayoral election two exit polls showed

Moscow mayoral election: Polls show victory for Putin ally Sergei Sobyanin but close result for Alexei Navalny could energise opposition

Kremlin ally Sergei Sobyanin won a Moscow mayoral election on Sunday, two exit polls showed, but opposition leader Alexei Navalny did much better than expected and challenged the count.

Jim Armitage: Belarus has bitten off more than it can chew by reeling in this big fish

Global Outlook In most countries, you get arrested for operating a cartel. In Belarus, it seems, the opposite is the case. On Monday, the chief executive of Russia's fertiliser giant Uralkali, travelling to Minsk at the invitation of the prime minister, arrived only to find himself getting arrested at the airport. His detention came just weeks after he had pulled his company out of the potassium cartel it has operated with Belarus. A cartel that has artificially kept up prices of crop-boosting fertilisers for farmers the world over.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt delighted with latest win in Diamond League

Jamaican powered through after slow start

Edward Snowden (AFP/Getty)

Edward Snowden 'contacted' Russians two days before arrival in Moscow

Russian newspaper reports Snowden discussed his flight plans with consulate in Hong Kong prior to departure, despite Putin claims his arrival was 'complete surprise'

BBC Sports presenter Gabby Logan

Russia’s anti-gay laws unsettled me, says Gabby Logan

Gabby Logan has spoken of her personal discomfort at presenting this month’s World Athletics Championships in Russia amid the furore over the country’s homophobic laws.

Mo Farah celebrates his 5,000m triumph in Moscow on Friday night, his second gold of the World Championships

Mo Farah: From tough of the track to marathon man

After his latest golden double, the distance runner relishes the idea of tackling 26.2 miles in London

Greg Rutherford in action in Moscow

World Championships: Chris Tomlinson fury after Greg Rutherford falls short in Moscow

Shunned long-jump rival erupts on Twitter as Olympic champion fails to reach final

The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 14 August 2013

Murray revelling in winning feeling

Christine Ohuruogu powers away from Natasha Hastings in the 400m semi-final

World Championships: Perri Shakes-Drayton sprints away from Olympic woes

It is two decades since Sally Gunnell glided over 10 hurdles in Stuttgart to be crowned world champion with a then world record.

The sporting week ahead (11/08/13)

Today

Hannah on her way to finishing fourth in Rome earlier this month

Hannah England: My goal is to make the Moscow final – and absolutely no excuses

Keeping track: I'm in far better shape than before London 2012

Paula Radcliffe speaks out on doping in Moscow

Paula Radcliffe: Life bans needed for dope cheats

There has been no more strident anti-drug campaigner in sport than Paula Radcliffe. At the track-and-field World Championships in Edmonton back in 2001 the future marathon world-record holder held up a home-made banner proclaiming "EPO Cheats Out", protesting at the presence in the 5,000 metres final of the Russian Olga Yegorova, who had tested positive for the blood-boosting hormone erythropoietin but escaped a ban on a technicality.

Jessica Ennis-Hill has been plagued by an Achilles injury

Jessica Ennis-Hill out for 15 weeks to save career

Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill is expected to be out of action for around 15 weeks, after her coach, Toni Minichiello, revealed that her career would have been at risk had she not pulled out of the upcoming World Championships.

Jessica Ennis-Hill has lost her fitness battle

Jessica Ennis-Hill ruled out for four months with injury

The Olympic champion is missing the World Championships in Moscow

Putin’s libertarian benevolence in this case has turned a chilly relationship with US ice-cold

Russia’s granting of asylum to Edward Snowden may have ended nearly six weeks in airport limbo for the man who leaked some of America’s most sensitive intelligence gathering programmes. But it has further poisoned the already severely strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links