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.

Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, has a 96 per cent approval rate, despite his hardline policies

Cameron's favourite pollsters hand dictator 96 per cent approval rating

One is the Government's favourite polling company, whose founder now works side by side with David Cameron in Downing Street and provides the Prime Minister with the latest insights into public opinion.

Ivanov holds aloft the European Championship trophy at the draw for next year's tournament

Valentin Ivanov: Footballer who won the first European Championship

Valentin Ivanov was one of the Soviet Union's leading goalscorers during the team's glory years of the 1950s and '60s, winning the 1956 Olympic title in Melbourne and the inaugural European Championship in 1960. He was awarded a "Golden Boot" by Fifa as joint top-scorer at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, won by the Brazil of Garrincha and Vavá. (Pelé was injured in the group stage.) Four years earlier, Ivanov had scored against England in a 2-2 draw in their 1958 World Cup finals group match in Gothenburg, Sweden, when a late Tom Finney penalty saved the English side from defeat.

Riga: the Latvian capital

Deals of the week: Riga, Venice, Maldives

Riga retreat

From Art Nouveau edifices to Soviet history, the Latvian capital makes for a tantalising trip. Amble through picturesque parklands or aim for the vast Central Market – a quartet of harbourside hangars selling all manner of goods and curiosities. Cities Direct has three nights' B&B at the Monika Centrum Hotel, located close to the Old Town's attractions, for £179 per person. The deal includes Ryanair flights from Stansted on Sunday 4 December. citiesdirect.co.uk

Comrade capitalists? Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Leon Trotsky

Spies & Commissars, By Robert Service

Acouple of weeks ago I was returning from a wedding in the Caucasus in the company of a Russian. He loved history, and thought Winston Churchill only the greatest Briton of all time, but the only one to have been a true friend of the Soviet Union. With a drunkard's insistence, he made me recite phrases from Churchill's speeches, which he replied to in the manner of Joseph Stalin. He delighted in this intimate conversation between the leaders, and insisted on our continuing until he passed out.

EU launches its first satellite navigation system

A Russian rocket launched the first two satellites of the European Union's Galileo navigation system after years of waiting for the start of the program billed as the main rival to the ubiquitous American GPS network.

A Day That Shook The World: Soviets put down Prague Spring

On 21 August 1968, Soviet tanks ended the so-called 'Prague Spring' when they rolled into the Czechoslovakian capital and reasserted Moscow's power.

Red Plenty: Inside the Fifties' Soviet Dream, By Francis Spufford

Dreamers of the world, united

Langston Hughes: The Value of Contradiction, By Bonnie Greer

When Bonnie Greer was coming of age in the 1960s , the controversial African-American writer-campaigner, Langston Hughes was unfashionable. He had testified before the House of Un-American Activities Committee, and reassured the committee that "race relations had improved in America", that it was a better place to be than the USSR.

Sakharov's widow, Yelena Bonner, dies

Yelena Bonner, a Russian rights activist and widow of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, has died, her daughter said yesterday. She was 88. Ms Bonner died of heart failure on Saturday afternoon in Boston, said her daughter, Tatiana Yankelevich. She grew famous through her marriage to Sakharov, the Soviet Union's leading dissident, but she carved out her own reputation as a tireless human rights campaigner in the face of relentless hostility from Soviet authorities.

The Free World, By David Bezmozgis

This second book and first novel from David Bezmozgis lifts off as the Krasnansky family arrive in Rome, preparing for new lives in the West along with thousands of Soviet Jewish refugees after fleeing Communism. Sadly, they are let down by their American sponsor, and bickering, bewildered family members are left in a state of seemingly perpetual limbo.

The rebirth of the Bolshoi theatre

A dazzling £400m refit has given Moscow's famous theatre a fresh start after years of alleged corruption

A Day That Shook The World: Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

On 12 April 1961, Russian airforce pilot Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go into space.

A Day That Shook The World: Berlin airlift begins

On 30 June 1948, the Allied powers began a massive airlift into Berlin, in response to a road and rail blockade started by the Soviets.

A Day That Shook The World: Soviets crush the Hungarian revolt

On 4 November 1956, the popular Hungarian uprising against communist rule was ruthlessly crushed by Soviet forces.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
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Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
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Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
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Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

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Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

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