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.

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.

A Russian removes a Putin election poster from an apartment block in Moscow yesterday

Crack down on opposition? I'll do nothing of the sort, vows Putin

As Russia votes, with one clear leader, Shaun Walker reports from Moscow on the would-be President's plans

Pavel Pogrebnyak, pictured scoring for Fulham at QPR, has made a bright start in the Premier League

Can Pogrebnyak be a Russian revelation after a string of flops?

The Weekend Dossier: Arshavin has familiar company as Russia’s Premier League restarts – Roman Pavlyuchenko will be playing for Lokomotiv Moscow

Leading article: Russia's new reality calls for a new-style president

The first requirement is that these elections be free and fair, but it’s hard to be optimistic on this score

Russian exiles 'behind killing of journalist'

A former policeman arrested over the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya has claimed that London-based anti-Kremlin exiles were behind her murder, according to a Russian newspaper report yesterday.

Six killed in Russia apartments gas blast

At least six people were killed and 12 others injured when part of a nine-storey apartment building in southern Russia collapsed following a natural gas explosion, officials said today.

Channel One footage shows Adam Osmayevunder the escort of masked agents following their raid in Odessa

Critics say report of election-day plot to kill Putin is a PR stunt

Russian and Ukrainian authorities yesterday said they had uncovered a terrorist plot to assassinate Vladimir Putin, an announcement that raised eyebrows owing to its disclosure only days before the presidential elections.

Channel One footage shows Adam Osmayevunder the escort of masked agents following their raid in Odessa

Opposition MPs smell a rat over election-day plot to kill Putin

Chechen man arrested before telling state TV his 'goal' was to murder Russia's Prime Minister

Putin warns America not to act on 'bellicose itch' over Syria

Vladimir Putin lashed out at American interference on the world stage yesterday, ahead of Sunday's presidential election.

Samba is Blackburn's most valuable player

Chris Samba exit good for Blackburn says Steve Kean

Christopher Samba's departure will help Blackburn's squad pull together in their fight against relegation from the Barclays Premier League, according to manager Steve Kean.

Plot to assassinate Putin foiled claims Russian television

Russian and Ukrainian security groups have foiled a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after Russia's March 4 presidential election, Russia's pro-government Channel One television said on Monday.

Opinion polls predict that Vladimir Putin will win the election easily

Politicians stage hunger strike for right to stand in Russian election

Protest in provincial town highlights growing sense of frustration with corrupt officials. Shaun Walker reports from Lermontov

BAT is still boosting its payout despite a decline in smoking

The cigarettes giant British American Tobacco still managed to fire up its rewards to shareholders despite a continued decline in smoking in western Europe and the United States.

Valter Litvinenko said his son Alexander, top, was a British spy

Litvinenko's father brands him a traitor and begs for forgiveness

Tearful parent of former KGB agent who was poisoned in London pleads for end to his exile

The Ladykillers, Gielgud, London

Critical mass: The Independent's cultural picks of the year

We've seen 12 months of famous returns, fabulous new works, and once-in-a-lifetime exhibitions. Relive the best here...

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Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'