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As a small child, Andrew Ravensdale was sexually abused by his own mother, as well as witnessing the abuse of his two brothers, one of whom later killed himself. In a rare interview, he talked to VoR's Alice Lagnado about how he set himself free from his childhood trauma and went on to change the lives of people with severe mental illness.


Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a former top aide to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, has swapped the big beasts of politics for the arguably less daunting ones of the African plains.

In 1994, the current President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, decided that he would move the capital of the country from Almaty, the historic and cultural centre, to the city of Akmola. Was this a wise move? VoR's Tim Walklate has just returned from there and gives his personal account of the result.

A rapper in white doctor's scrubs reels off life-saving advice on Ebola to the sound of a hip-hop anthem, one of the many African artists putting their talents to work to fight the killer virus. Upbeat songs and caustic cartoons have cropped up across Ebola-hit West Africa and beyond to spread a public health message that the authorities often struggle to convey.



Five of Britain’s most influential journalists will talk in London this week about the novels that changed their life – and the most powerful voices in Russian literature are among their choices. Broadcaster Andrew Marr told VoR's Alice Lagnado why he keeps returning to Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.


The work of British photographer James Hill, who captured photographs from the scenes of the Beslan school tragedy in Russia in 2004, is featuring in a new exhibition to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tragedy. The photos were taken two weeks after Chechen rebels held more than 1,200 people hostage in the Beslan no1 school, which resulted in the deaths of more than 330 people. VoR’s Alex Pichaloff caught up with him on the eve of the exhibition’s opening in Moscow and started by asking how it came to fruition.

Russia, Terrorism, Photo gallery, North Ossetia

Graham Phillips is a 35-year-old civil servant turned blogger from Nottingham who shot to fame when he started reporting from Ukraine as a freelancer for RT, the Russian television channel. But what made this young man from Nottingham go to Ukraine, a country where he did not speak the language or have any ties, in the first place?

Russia's top Antarctic scientists are hoping to penetrate Lake Vostok for the second time this autumn and obtain pristine samples of its water, which will provide clues to the climate of the past and the future.

At the beginning of the new film Hermitage Revealed, director and narrator Margy Kinmonth says that the story of this grand old museum is a microcosm of Russian history. VoR's Alice Lagnado spoke to Kinmonth about the film.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken out on the role of government in lifestyle issues, saying that while heavy drinking and smoking are social problems that should be addressed, they need to be tackled in the right way. Sky-high excise duties on tobacco or a re-run of the unsuccessful Soviet-era campaigns against alcoholism would just be counter-productive.

The poetry of Mikhail Lermontov is little-known in the UK although he was descended from the Scots. But now British scholars are trying to put that right. This week the Scottish Poetry Library is hosting a discussion of Lermontov’s work at the Edinburgh Festival, hot on the heels of a new translation of his work into English and Scots. After Lermontov: Translations for the Bicentenary marks 200 years since the poet’s birth. VoR's Alice Lagnado reports.

In the summer of 1914, Europe went to war. Monday, 28 July marks 100 years since the start of World War One where Austria-Hungry declared war on Serbia. It would be the starting point of what would engulf almost the entire world.

The oldest pier in the UK, Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, celebrates its bicentennial today. Opened in 1814, it was the original seaside pier and paved the way for dozens of others up and down Britain, from Dunoon in Scotland to Falmouth in Cornwall.

Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae grew up in the world of drag car racing in Australia which gave him a lifelong love of speed and adrenalin. He challenged his energy into dance, becoming a versatile and ambitious dancer at Covent Garden, where he has performed with leading ballerinas like Alina Cojocaru, Sarah Lamb, Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova, and Iana Salenko. VoR’s Alice Lagnado caught up with Steven in between rehearsals.

A first attempt to reach Lake Ellsworth, which is located deep underneath the West Antarctic ice sheet, failed despite years of careful planning. But now scientists and engineers are working hard to ensure they strike lucky next time. Glaciologist Professor Martin Siegert, who is leading the Lake Ellsworth project, talked to VoR’s Alice Lagnado about his pioneering work.

The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition this week by voting to allow women to become bishops. June Osborne is Dean of Salisbury Cathedral and widely tipped to herself become the first female Anglican bishop. VoR's Tim Ecott asked her for her reaction to the historic vote.

London's Battersea power station chimneys, which have dominated the skyline for decades are to be dismantled – and rebuilt. All four 50m chimneys will be painstakingly taken down in an operation which will take five months for each chimney. Meanwhile, it's been announced that the power station will see a pop-up cinema showing the World Cup Final, Toy Story and other films this summer.

The Islamist group ISIS is continuing to make gains in Iraq as the western world tries to deal with the violent group. The leader of ISIS has declared a caliphate which stretches across parts of northern Iraq and Syria. VoR's Brendan Cole spoke to Kamal Alam, an analyst of the region who has written extensively about Syria. 

Thousands of people poured into the Scottish city of Stirling this weekend for a re-enactment of the legendary 1314 Battle of Bannockburn between the Scots and the English, with the festival atmosphere tinged by symbolism: in just a few weeks, Scotland votes on whether to leave the UK. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond were both in Stirling for the Armed Forces Day event also being marked.

The city of Bath in the south-west of England has some of the best preserved Roman relics in Britain, including more than 100 ancient 'curse tablets' which have just been added to a UNESCO list of key historical documents. Stephen Clews, the manager at the Roman Baths museum in the city, told us more about them.

Society, History, Romans, Bath, England
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December 2017
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December 2017