Owning a car in Russia can present more problems than it solves. First there is the import duty, which pushes the cost of a top-range marque up a hefty 50% to more than R4million. Then there are the ubiquitous traffic jams in Moscow, where cars move at a sedate average of 19kph -- slightly faster than in London, though, which clocks in at 18kph.
United States President George Bush's attempts to patch up the US's battered relationship with Russia failed on Sunday when Vladimir Putin said he continued to oppose the US's European missile defence plans. Bush and Putin held talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It was their last encounter before Putin steps down as president.
He has been dubbed Europe's last dictator. He is known for jailing his political enemies, closing down theatre productions, and presiding -- in the words of one opposition leader -- over a "horrible" regime. But Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus's autocratic President, has come up with a solution to overcome his pariah status.
The diplomatic stand-off between the United Kingdom and Russia entered a dangerous new phase on Wednesday as British officials denounced ''a pattern of intimidation'' by Russia's security services against British Council staff. The UK Foreign Office complained of unacceptable behaviour, after Russians working at British Council offices in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg were called in for questioning by the FSB
With birds twittering gently in the background, Aras Agalarov explains why he has decided to build a housing estate for Russia's super-rich. Next to him work has almost finished on a vast neo-classical villa; down the muddy track a Scottish baronial mansion rises magnificently above a line of newly planted birch trees.
The secretive oil company Gunvor has broken its silence over its alleged links with Vladimir Putin, denying that the Russian President was the company's ''beneficiary'' owner. Gunvor's CEO said it was ''plain wrong'' to suggest the company had benefited from its alleged close connections with the Kremlin.
Gennady Zyuganov grins at his wrinkled audience as a voice booms out: ''Comrades, let us salute the heroes of the revolution!'' A procession of rather ancient men shuffles forward. Zyuganov gives them each a medal. One 94-year-old hero has problems mounting the wooden stairs of the theatre where the election rally is being held. Zygunov bounds down from the stage. ''Ninety-four,'' he exclaims, pinning on a medal for long service.
Britain's relations with Russia faced another downturn last week following fresh reports that the missing billionaire oligarch Mikhail Gutseriyev had fled to the United Kingdom. Gutseriyev -- the former head of Russneft, a Russian private oil firm -- disappeared in August shortly before a Moscow court issued a warrant for his arrest.
Recently Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Putin's most implacable enemy, goes on trial in Russia for corruption, accused of stealing millions of dollars from Russia's state airline, Aeroflot. If convicted, the former mathematics professor faces 10 years in jail. But he was not in court to face his accusers, and will not be there to hear the verdict weeks from now.
It is already the world's biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the Far East. But this week Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast, 1,19-million-square-kilometre chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.