Arts and Entertainment Ellie Goulding has refused to sing at the Sochi Winter Olympics due to Russia's anti-gay laws

The singer turned down a request to sing at the Sochi opening ceremony

Winter Olympics 2014: Twin toilets at Sochi Games venue sparks Twitter storm

Photo showing a twin toilet in the Sochi Biathlon Centre has been met with jokes and disbelief across Twitter

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during press conference in Moscow on 17 January 2014. He has since called the UN's withdrawal of its invitation to the Syrian peace talks to Iran

Syria peace talks: Russian Foreign Minster says withdrawing Iran's invitation is 'a mistake, but not a catastrophe'

His words come after the UN offered Iran a place at Wednesday's meetings on Sunday, which had been withdrawn by Monday

Vladimir Putin is not a homophobe because he ‘loves Elton John’

Vladmir Putin made the revelation during a televised interview special with Andrew Marr ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics next month

The eye of the storm: Speakes in the White House in 1982

Larry Speakes: Press secretary to Ronald Reagan who later admitted he had put words into the president’s mouth

An assassination attempt plunged Larry Speakes into the brightest of national spotlights as chief spokesman for President Ronald Reagan. When Reagan’s press secretary James Brady was severely wounded in the 1981 attempt on the president’s life, Speakes was thrust into the eye of the storm. As White House spokesman for six years, a long tenure in the sensitive post, he was credited with 2,000 news media briefings.

Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after not being given access to medical treatment

Sergei Magnitsky - the final insult: Russia continues to 'desecrate the memory' of the whistleblower lawyer

First he was imprisoned. There he died after being denied medical treatment. Then he was put on posthumous trial. Now the Russian lawyer who dared to expose a £140m fraud is accused of perpetrating the crime himself

People gather at the site of an explosion on a trolley bus in Volgograd. President Vladimir Putin has vowed to annihilate 'terrorists' following two deadly bomb attacks in less than 24 hours

President Putin vows to 'annihilate' terrorists after Volgograd suicide bombings

Double bombings have killed at least 34 people

The trolleybus destroyed by a suicide bomb in Volgograd

The security fallout from the Volgograd atrocity won’t be pretty

President Putin wants the Sochi Winter Olympics to showcase Russia as an orderly state

Alan Hubbard: Vladimir Putin compromises in bid to avoid the global cold shoulder at Sochi Games

Few world leaders are more aware of the power of sport in global politics

The Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot prison releases reveal the dilemma of mature Putinism

Khodorkovsky’s release may well have been intended to further those goals by sending a positive signal about Russia's future business climate

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was no worse than Oliver Cromwell

The Russian President made the comments at a press conference after he was asked about a monument to Stalin being put up in Moscow

Alec Luhn's Sketch: The press pack with tsars in their eyes

Vladimir Putin played the role of the good tsar at his annual press conference, fielding questions, repeated declarations of grateful praise and requests to deal with unscrupulous businessmen and lazy bureaucrats. One excited journalist even credited him with an improvement in her love life, noting that she had “finally gotten married” shortly after meeting him in March.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow; he later announced the surprise early release of the former Yukos oil tycoon

Mikhail Khodorkovsky pardoned: Russian President Vladimir Putin to free former political nemesis after 10 years in prison

The former oil tycoon is to be pardoned after as part of an ‘amnesty project’ by the Kremlin ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics next year

Arctic 30 and Pussy Riot members to be freed after Russia passes amnesty law

Hopes are now that activists and journalists will be home for Christmas following move by Russian parliament

An estimated 200,000 anti-government demonstrators converge on Independence Square in central Kiev

EU halts Ukraine talks over ‘unrealistic’ demands

Arguments and demands of president and his government “have no grounds in reality”

Guards escort and Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (centre) and Maria Alekhina to their trial in Moscow last year

Pussy Riot may be free by new year after judgement is overturned by Russia's Supreme Court

Russia’s Supreme Court has said the ruling that jailed the feminist punk group Pussy Riot was illegal and their case should be heard again.

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