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.

Jenny Meadows

Heartbreak for Jenny Meadows as injury rules 800m runner out of second successive season

The 32-year-old missed last year's Olympic Games

In this image made by a mobile phone camera, people leave a subway station in downtown Moscow after a rush-hour fire in Moscow's Metro

Rush-hour fire halts Red Square trains on Moscow Metro

Dozens treated for inhaling smoke and seven in hospital after thousands evacuated

More than six years after Politkovskaya (right) was shot at her Moscow apartment building, Rustam Makhmudov (left), the suspected killer, two of his brothers and two other defendants, including his uncle, face murder charges for the second time

Anna Politkovskaya murder trial is rerun six years after fatal shooting of anti-corruption journalist

Russia began a second bid to convict the suspected killers of prominent Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya at a pre-trial hearing on Monday, but her family said the question of who ordered the murder was unlikely to emerge from the case.

Jailed Pussy Riot member sent to hospital due to hunger strike

A jailed member of the punk group Pussy Riot has been taken to hospital on the seventh day of a hunger strike to protest at what she calls a persecution campaign.

Bill Browder: The financier is seeking justice in the death of a whistle-blower

Russian bid to keep tabs on London based campaigner fails

Financier Bill Browder is at forefront of a campaign seeking justice for Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who exposed corruption before dying in a Moscow prison

Alexander Lebedev says charges are 'fabricated'

The businessman Alexander Lebedev told a Russian court that he did not understand the accusations against him of “hooliganism motivated by political hatred” that could see him jailed for up to five years.

Russia claims to have foiled possible terror plot

Russia's counter-terrorism agency says it killed two militants it believes were planning a terrorist act in Moscow and detained a third.

Alexander Litvinenko: The former KGB agent died from polonium-210 poisoning in 2006

Widow of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko says coroner 'abandoned search for truth' and calls for public inquiry into his death

The widow of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko has called for the inquest into her late husband's death to be abandoned and for a public inquiry to be held in its place.

Vladimir Lenin is once again on display to visitors in Moscow's Red Square as mausoleum reopens

Shaun Walker meets the Communist party faithful as the Soviet leader goes back on display

Peter Eriksson

UK Athletics rocked by announcement Peter Eriksson is to stand down as head coach

The Swede replaced Charles van Commenee last October

Red-handed? Russia ‘catches CIA spy on Moscow recruitment mission’

Shaun Walker on the scarcely believable tale of the wig-wearing diplomat expelled from Moscow

Russia homophobic murder: Two detained after man is beaten and tortured to death in anti-gay attack in Volgograd

Victim had been drinking with two men, who allegedly started beating him when he revealed he was gay

Postcard from... Moscow

Vladislav Surkov was responsible for modernising the Russian economy at Mr Putin’s behest

A last audience for Vladimir Putin's 'grey cardinal' as the architect of Kremlin policy, Vladislav Surkov, quits

The man behind Russia’s tightly controlled political system, has resigned – but did he jump or was he pushed?

Alexander Lebedev appears in court over punching property tycoon Sergei Polonsky on Russian television show

Alexander Lebedev, the Russian businessman whose family owns The Independent, appeared in a Moscow courtroom today to hear charges read against him that could land him in prison for up to five years.

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Lake Garda, Venice & Verona from £629pp
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Prices correct as of 12 December 2014
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
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas