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His words come after the UN offered Iran a place at Wednesday's meetings on Sunday, which had been withdrawn by Monday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