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MOSCOW – The colors of the Russian flag change under pressure. Czar Alexei Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great, is believed to have been the author of the first white-blue-and-red tricolor in 1668. An English captain, engaged to command the first naval protection vessel in the Russian fleet, asked the czar to choose a flag, [...]

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La Fontaine told a fable of two donkeys who came to misfortune. The first, the vain one, was carrying a load of cash; the other, a load of oats, On a lonely road, they and their masters were suddenly surrounded by thieves who weren’t interested in the oats. After making off with bearer for dead, [...]

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You can always tell when an American politician is well and truly washed up, a has-been. He comes to Russia to meet the tsar so that he can go back to Washington and get the Marine salute at the White House before he divulges the very latest on what the big, bad Russian had to [...]

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When Philip Marlowe, the famous fictional American private eye, read the gossip columns of big-city newspapers, he explained that “I don’t read them often, only when I run out of things I dislike.” If Marlowe were able to read the Moscow papers and savor their meretriciousness, he’d never make it off the front page. Take [...]

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When Russians gather to drink, they often offer each other a traditional rhyming toast that can be roughly translated as: “May we have more pies and doughnuts, fewer black eyes and bruises!” It’s a formula that Russia’s most powerful businessmen have been quietly offering the advertising-starved managements of some of the world’s leading newspapers in [...]