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.

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.

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.

Latvia: At liberty in the Baltic

As Latvia marks 20 years of independence, its capital has reinvented itself as an intriguing tourist destination. William Cook relishes his time in a revitalised Riga

A Day That Shook The World: Soviet coup fails

On 19 August 1991, Soviet hardliners dismayed at the amount of ground they were conceding to reformists, made a desperate gambit by sending tanks into Moscow.

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Independent Travel
Panama
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
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