Although he has ruled Russia for twelve years, Vladimir Putin remains a mystery. His family life is hidden, as is much of his life story. His wealth is the subject of speculation, with some insisting he is the richest man in Europe. But evidence is difficult to come by. His enemies regularly turn up dead and he attaches little value to human life. Yet he has presided over the sharpest rise in Russian living standards in the last 100 years.
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With just a few days to go until the first issue of the new decade, does anyone recognise the stern figure on our February cover?
'Fiona Shaw, in Jonathan Miller’s production, is the best shrew I have seen. She starts off in a mustard yellow dress with a mustard sharp tongue.'
From the archive, Kate Kellaway on a 1988 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.