Arts and Entertainment

One of the most brutal battles of the Second World War was the Nazi offensive against Stalingrad where atrocities were committed on both sides and the soldiers also had to contend with starvation and freezing conditions during a lengthy siege.

Pope Francis: 'I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it'

Pope Francis has his feet on the ground but he may be too late to save the Church from the damage of sex abuse scandals

Is he doomed to play the role of Mikhail Gorbachev to an organisation long as secretive as the Kremlin?

Roger Bannister celebrates with Chris Chataway in 1954 as he becomes the first man to run a sub-four minute mile

Sir Chris Chataway: A boy’s own hero who was truly one of a kind

Sir Chris Chataway, the former world-record runner, acted as pacemaker to help Roger Bannister break the four-minute mile barrier. And he achieved so much more

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.

(From left) Remington Chase, Gerard Butler and Stepan Martirosyan worked together on ‘Motor City’

LA confidential: The criminal backstory of Hollywood’s ‘biggest’ independent movie financiers

Remington Chase and Stepan Martirosyan have twin convictions for cocaine trafficking and went by aliases

Aleksandr Naumov, 'Oil', 1927

The Golden Age of Soviet film posters

New exhibition opens in London to commemorate Soviet film artists

Alexei Volodin, classical review

Wigmore Hall, London

National Archives: When Mikhail Gorbachev was left outside No 10

When planning a visit, it is often wise to check that your host will be in. It might be imagined that such niceties of etiquette would apply particularly when popping in on the Prime Minister – but not if you are Mikhail Gorbachev.

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

Curwen: Oleg Gordievsky called him and his colleagues 'the real defenders of democracy'

Sir Christopher Curwen: Security services officer

Head of MI6 whose achievements included bringing the double agent Oleg Gordievsky out of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Kalashnikov dies: Five quick-fire facts about the AK-47 inventor

Mikhail Kalashnikov dies: Five quick-fire facts about the AK-47 inventor

As the Russian engineer passes away, aged 94, here are five quick-fire facts to get you up to bullet-speed, pronto

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To me, Christmas is little more than a Trivial Pursuit (literally)

Trivial Pursuit is our Christmas miracle, something that takes us back to a time when I was a toddler, the USSR was going strong, and Maggie Thatcher was at No. 10

Who said it: Joseph Stalin or Oliver Cromwell?

Vladimir Putin has compared Joseph Stalin with 17th century Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell, saying there was no difference between the two men.

Alexander Litvinenko is pictured at the Intensive Care Unit of University College Hospital in 2006 - secret services allegedly asked the late spy to provide 'expert analysis' on a confidential Foreign Office report

Alexander Litvinenko case: Coroner will not consider Russian involvement in his death

The British coroner examining the death of an ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko has today ruled the question of whether Russia was responsible will be withdrawn from the scope of the inquiry.

Hathaway after a fire at the US Embassy in Moscow; he had refused to let in firemen, suspecting some may have been KGB agents

Gardner Hathaway: Intelligence officer whose resourcefulness during the Cold War made him highly esteemed by his colleagues

Gardner Hathaway was a CIA chief of counter-intelligence whose career took him to Cold War focal points ranging from Berlin to Moscow and placed him at the centre of many espionage episodes. Taciturn but courtly, "Gus" Hathaway was an undercover officer known for his mastery of espionage tradecraft and his aggressive efforts to best the KGB. "Gus was a risk-taker," said Jack Downing, a former CIA deputy director of operations. "We needed good intelligence, and we needed to be aggressive to get it. He was canny and smart."

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”

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'