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27 Aug, 2010 11:56

Russian PM hits freshly-built highway in a nationally-made car

Known for his keen interest in most extreme adventures, Vladimir Putin has volunteered to inspect the new highway connecting the country’s East and West in person in a sports car made by a domestic manufacturer.

In fact, AvtoVAZ just asked to include the newly-built Lada Kalina Sport in the PM’s train. No one expected that Putin would personally get behind the wheel of the car – painted, by the way, in canary yellow.

Luckily, the color did not embarrass the PM.

“I saw the color only yesterday,” Putin said. “But I thought, well, why not? Yellow is fun. A youthful style.”

The unusual shading was partially compensated for with the most up-to-date gizmos – back-axle disk brakes, a spoiler and a GPS/GLONASS system. To create a cozier atmosphere, the PM brought with him a pillow with lovely dogs and a collection of his favourite CDs, Lifenews.ru reports.

Still, Putin said he would not drive all the way. No wonder, the highway is 2,100-kilometers-long, and the car has a manual transmission: AvtoVAZ said that at the moment they cannot produce cars with automatic gearboxes – though they are trying very hard.

“This road is a great event in the country’s history,” Putin said. “I would even say it is highly symbolic. Our country, which is so big, could never boast a good system of highways. In the past, only war threats made Russia’s leaders build new roads. Now we do this to stimulate the development of the infrastructure.”

Vladimir Putin has given an informal TV interview from behind the wheel, talking about the need to improve road safety and develop energy production in the country's Far East.

“We have discussed things with truck drivers. They say that it’s okay the motorway has been built, and it appears good along this stretch, but it still lacks service points. Imagine if a tire bursts when the temperature is 50 below zero. It would simply endanger life. Plus, no communication – at all. This is very serious. It just means we’ve failed to take proper care of this in our time. And it needs to be fixed immediately,” he said.

“You’ll see this now as we move on – large production is planned here related to pumping oil. We are building a new pipeline with our Chinese partners,” the prime minister added. “That's what several major proposed locations along this motorway will be about. Without doubt they will grow to become generators for the region.”