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
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture