Travel Passengers dine in the restaurant car of the Red Arrow to St Petersburg

For 150 years the railway line between Moscow and St Petersburg ran as straight as an arrow for 403 miles. Straight, but for one big bend near Novgorod. The story goes that Tsar Nicholas was so fed up of officials dithering over the route that he plonked a ruler on the map and drew a straight line between the two cities, accidentally drawing around his finger in the process. Too terrified to point out his error, the builders constructed the railway with the Tsar's bump in place.

Putin says pants to painting: Artist flees Russia as portrait of President in women's underwear confiscated from art gallery

A picture of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in women's underwear has been confiscated from an art gallery in St Petersburg ahead of the G20 summit.

Edward Snowden (AFP/Getty)

Edward Snowden 'contacted' Russians two days before arrival in Moscow

Russian newspaper reports Snowden discussed his flight plans with consulate in Hong Kong prior to departure, despite Putin claims his arrival was 'complete surprise'

Prison Break actor and Stoker screenwriter Wentworth Miller has attacked Russia over its new anti-gay laws

'As a gay man, I must decline' - Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller refuses invitation to Russia over their anti-gay laws

Prison Break star Wentworth Miller has published a strongly worded letter declining an invitation to attend a Russian film festival in light of the country’s new anti-gay laws.

Do the kindly Brontosaurus: The prehistoric pose that can get you what you want

Writer Jessica Winter has set the internet abuzz with her suggestion that a prehistoric pose is the ultimate persuasive power. Here, she explains her case – while body language expert Dr Lillian Glass reveals that the humility of the pose makes people receptive

Vitaly Milonov was speaking after Mr Fry called for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics because of homophobic prejudice in Russia

Russian politician Vitaly Milonov brands Stephen Fry ‘sick’ during anti-gay rant

Vitaly Milonov also likened homosexuality to bestiality on BBC Radio 5 live

La Bayadère, Corps de Ballet

Dance review: La Bayadère - The Bolshoi's Olga Smirnova is precise and otherworldly

The Bolshoi Ballet’s Olga Smirnova dances with a moonlit glow. In the “Kingdom of the Shades” scene of La Bayadère, she gives the ghostly heroine a hypnotic beauty. Her bursts of dazzling speed don’t break the smooth flow of her dancing: she’s both precise and otherworldly.

US senator calls Russian president Vladimir Putin a 'schoolyard bully' for refusing to hand over NSA leaker Edward Snowden

A US senator has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of behaving like a "schoolyard bully" over his decision to ignore extradition requests from the US government over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Twin city calls for gay rights: Manchester uses links with St Petersburg to put pressure on Russia over its new anti-gay laws

Manchester City Council is using its “twinned” status with St Petersburg to pressure Russia  into reconsidering its new anti-gay laws.

Putin’s libertarian benevolence in this case has turned a chilly relationship with US ice-cold

Russia’s granting of asylum to Edward Snowden may have ended nearly six weeks in airport limbo for the man who leaked some of America’s most sensitive intelligence gathering programmes. But it has further poisoned the already severely strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

'Gay propaganda' becomes illegal in Russia

“Gay propaganda” is now illegal in Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial bill into law today.

Russian police arrest gay rights activists at St. Petersburg rally

Russian police have arrested several gay rights activists and anti-gay rights demonstrators who confronted them at a rally in St. Petersburg.

Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin come to blows over disputed artworks

Premiers cancel joint opening of exhibition displaying 600 pieces of looted German Bronze Age art

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied accusations that he has stolen a $25,000 (£16,000) diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies stealing £16,000 diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring

Ring was one of many given to the New England Patriots team after they won Super Bowl in February 2005

Crash course: The G8 summit

This year’s meeting of the Group of Eight – or the G8 – begins in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, on Monday. The summit draws the world’s most powerful leaders – as well as protests and disruption.

Gerrit van Honthorst masterpiece seized by Nazis sells for record $3.4m

A 17th century Dutch masterpiece that graced the collections of Catherine the Great's art adviser and Russia's Hermitage Museum before being seized by the Nazis sold for nearly $3.4 million (£2.18 million) at auction, a record for the artist Gerrit van Honthorst.

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Novak Djokovic has been attending the Buddhapadipa Temple for quiet contemplation for several years
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Lewis Hamilton takes pole on front of his home fans
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Day In a Page

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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
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'