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Visit Russia in mid August for 2 weeks

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Our family of 4 are planning a visit to Russia mid August for 2 weeks. I have been reading this forum, still have a few initial questions.
1) I don't want to go on a big tour, but debating whether we should use a private guide or go on our own. Readings from this forum told me it is safe to visit Moscow/St Petersburg on our own, we will be visiting mostly tourists sites, they all seem pretty concentrated in the city center. The only reason I am thinking of using a private tour is for the safety, not for language barrier, though we don't speak Russian. What is your advice? Any recommendation for a good honest private tour guide?
2) Both Fodors and Frommer's book only talk about Moscow and St. Petersburg. Are other parts of Russia worth visiting? I read Baikal lake in Siberia, that place seems mostly for winter fun. We live in Wisconsin, have no interest in winter fun stuff in August.
3) Is Bolshoi Theatre open in last two weeks of August? I checked its official website, the schedule only goes to June. We really want to see a ballet, ideally in Bolshoi.

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