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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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
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project