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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
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Bill Granger's winter salads

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George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

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Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links