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
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker