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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.

Open Jaw: Red tape and tourism

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John Demjanjuk after being found guilty at his trial in Munich in 2011; his wartime SS identity card

John Demjanjuk: Convicted Nazi guard who protested his innocence for three decades

Rarely was there a greater outward contrast between an accused and the terrible crimes of which he was found guilty. For friends, he was a doting grandfather, a retired Ukrainian immigrant who had worked in the US car industry and tended his surburban lawn outside Cleveland, Ohio. But for a German law court, and the Nazi-hunters who pursued John Demjanjuk for three decades, he was part of the machinery of genocide at Hitler's death camps.

Rights groups condemn Belarus over executions

Two men convicted of carrying out a deadly bombing on the Minsk underground railway last year have been executed.

Wladimir Putin won Russia's presidential election and addresses supporters in Kremlin, Moscow

Putin wins 'tainted' election

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rolled to victory in Russia's presidential election today, according to exit polls cited by state television, but the vote was tainted by claims of violations, including "carousel voting" in which voters were bused around to cast several ballots.

The latest polls suggest Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, will win Sunday’s presidential poll

Mary Dejevsky: Russia is changing and Putin must, too

The first complete book that any British student of Russian is likely to read in the original is Fathers and Sons, a novel by Ivan Turgenev. There are all sorts of reasons why that might be.

Belarus left isolated as EU nations withdraw ambassadors

The regime of Alexander Lukashenko is looking increasingly isolated today after European Union nations took the extraordinary step of jointly withdrawing all their ambassadors from Belarus.

Turkmenistan's president wins 97% of vote

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov won a new five-year term by capturing 97 per cent of the vote, election officials said today, but a Western expert called the vote a democratic sham.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has urged Vladimir Putin to give up power

Putin has exhausted his potential, says Gorbachev

Vladimir Putin has "exhausted" his potential as Russia's leader, Mikhail Gorbachev said yesterday, warning that the Prime Minister's inability to change the political system might prompt further anti-government protests.

Leading article: English justice – the oligarchs' choice

For almost four months, London's brand new Commercial Court has offered the bizarre spectacle of two Russian oligarchs – one a pugnacious political fugitive, the other the taciturn owner of Chelsea Football Club – fighting over the, for them, paltry sum of a couple billion pounds. The fleets of limousines, the posses of bodyguards and the corridor chatter in Russian all contrasted with the very British surroundings. Finally, the seemingly interminable proceedings are at an end, and Mrs Justice Gloster has reserved her judgment for as long as it takes.

Former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko (centre)

Tymoshenko's husband flees amid claims of persecution

Meanwhile his wife, Ukraine's ex-Prime Minister, faces 24-hour surveillance in jail

An unlikely putschist: Starodubtsev in 1999

Vasily Starodubtsev: Politician who tried to topple Gorbachev in 1991

As head of the Collective Farms Council – and not a disaffected general or security chief – Vasily Starodubtsev made an unlikely putschist. Yet there he sat at the Foreign Ministry Press Centre on the afternoon of 19 August 1991, one of the eight members of the "State Committee for Emergency Situations" as that clumsily named body tried to explain the short-lived coup to topple President Mikhail Gorbachev while he was on holiday by the Black Sea.

Leading article: First shoots appear of a new democratic Russia

Twenty years ago this morning, Russians awoke not just to a new day, but to a new world – and so did everyone else. It had been only hours since Mikhail Gorbachev had announced in a momentous broadcast that he was resigning as President of the USSR, having failed to gain support for a new federal treaty.

10 die as workers clash with police in Kazakhstan

Ten people were killed in clashes between sacked oil workers and police in western Kazakhstan yesterday.

An image of China’s first aircraft carrier during its sea trials in the Yellow Sea has been captured by a commercial US satellite company

Spy satellite glimpses China's carrier in Yellow Sea

Images of China's first aircraft carrier during its sea trials in the Yellow Sea have been captured by a commercial US satellite company.

Shaun Walker: Heavy-handed tactics betray state scared of a discontented public

Ever since he came to power in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has crushed all threats to his regime. Most recently, in the aftermath of fixed presidential elections last December when tens of thousands of Belarusians gathered to protest against the results, he had them violently dispersed and most of the opposition presidential candidates locked up. Two of them are still in prison.

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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
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable