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.

The opposition politician Alexei Navalny launched his campaign to be elected mayor of Moscow on Monday

Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny bids to be mayor of Moscow despite 'political' charges of embezzlement

The opposition politician Alexei Navalny launched his campaign to be elected mayor of Moscow on Monday, but he could end up being sent to prison before the September vote.

Mo Farah on his way to victory in the 5,000m

Flying Farah rises to the challenge as Judd enters elite ranks

Before the best of Britain's runners and jumpers got into action in Birmingham yesterday, it was fair to say they were in danger of getting stuck in Jagger mode in post-home-Olympic season.

Mo Farah turns his attention back to the track this weekend

Mo Farah has point to prove as proper business begins

Didn’t he do well? That last lap of Mo Farah’s in the 5,000 metres at the European Team Championships at Gateshead last Saturday was some sight to behold: a sizzling 50.89sec, positively Boltesque by distance-running standards.

A TV screen shows a news report about Edward Snowden in Hong Kong

Vladimir Putin confirms Edward Snowden is still in Moscow airport and blocks US extradition demands, as Venezuela says it would consider asylum request

Russian President says former CIA employee remains a free man, and the sooner he chooses destination the better

Sergei Magnitsky died in custody nine months after he was arrested

Magnitsky affair: Russia has allowed suspected killers of a whistleblowing lawyer to escape with impunity, says damning report

Council of Europe investigation into death of tax specialist who uncovered a $230m fraud against the state rubbishes Russian version of events

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

Hannah England: I've got the right times – now to focus on the chess

Keeping Track: In her first column, the middle-distance runner looks forward to competing for Britain at European Team Championships on Sunday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied accusations that he has stolen a $25,000 (£16,000) diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies stealing £16,000 diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring

Ring was one of many given to the New England Patriots team after they won Super Bowl in February 2005

Sergei Polonsky (centre) is led away by Cambodian officials earlier this year

Sergei Polonsky 'wanted by Moscow in connection with £120m fraud case'

The controversial property tycoon Sergei Polonsky, key witness in an ongoing trial against fellow Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev, is now wanted by Russian authorities over a massive alleged fraud. Mr Polonsky, who earlier this year skipped bail in Cambodia, where he was awaiting trial for assaulting local sailors, is now also on Russia’s wanted list.

Ejected Polymetal in Moscow listing

Polymetal International, the Russian gold producer that is set to be ejected from the elite FTSE 100 this month, will start trading shares in Moscow tomorrow as it shores up its investor base.

'Who you sleep with is a personal choice': Oligarch Mikhai Prokhorov criticises Russia's 'gay propaganda' law

Mikhai Prokhorov, the oligarch and politician often referred to as “Russia’s most eligible bachelor”, has criticised the controversial “gay propaganda” law passed overwhelmingly by Russia’s parliament earlier this week.

Andrew Selby (right) on his way to his second European gold, overcoming Ireland's Michael Conland in the final

Steve Bunce on Boxing: Cultures clash as full-time amateurs finally make their mark on Europe

Even John Conteh, Alan Minter and Charlie Magri took beatings

Jessica Ennis-Hill

Injury forces Jessica Ennis-Hill out of Diamond League meeting in Oslo

The Olympic gold winner is thinking long term

McQuaid effectively accuses Cookson of being a stooge of the oligarch

Cycling: Pat McQuaid fights back in war of words

UCI president seeking re-election posts damning letter accusing rival of consorting with 'election fixer'

Police rule out foul play over Russian supergrass found dying outside his Surrey mansion

But cause of death not pinpointed despite two post mortem examinations

Garry Kasparov fears being targeted in his native land

Chess grandmaster-turned-opposition politician, Gary Kasparov, ponders next move – but Russia’s out

Garry Kasparov, the chess grandmaster-turned-Russian opposition politician, has said that he will not return to Russia in the foreseeable future as he fears arrest.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003