You can have any car you want, as long as it's Russian, orders Putin

President-elect tells bureaucrats that they must support the nation's automotive industry


The frequent sightings of black Mercedes, with tinted windows and a flashing blue light, ferrying government officials to work through the dense Moscow traffic could soon be a thing of the past after Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin ordered that all bureaucrats should stop buying foreign-made cars.

"I believe that all state and municipal authorities, customers and companies who receive funding from the budget, should have to start buying cars produced on the territory of Russia and the Common Economic Area in the near future," said Mr Putin on a tour of a major car factory. The Common Economic Area is a customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

According to official statistics, between 2007 and 2009, Russian government bodies and state-controlled companies spent around £100m on luxury cars, while domestic car manufacturers such as Lada and Volga struggled.

It is not the first time that Russia has tried to curb top officials' expensive tastes when it comes to their wheels. Back in 1997, the Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov, now one of the leaders of the opposition to Mr Putin, proposed to the then-President, Boris Yeltsin, that foreign luxury vehicles should be replaced with Volga sedans, the chunky status-symbol car that was used by top-ranking Soviet officials.

The resulting decree was largely ignored by bureaucrats, who seemed to feel that they needed an Audi at the very least, to reflect their elevated status.

Mr Putin has been a tireless champion of the Russian car industry, although his motorcade is made up of imported cars on a daily basis. But while the new move may boost local companies, there is a catch – "Russian-made" cars include any car assembled inside Russia, so don't expect Russia's leaders to be making their way to the Kremlin in a Zhiguli, the clanky, basic Lada model that has been in production for decades.

Russia has used high import tariffs to entice foreign car manufacturers to set up assembly plants inside the country, and although many of the factories are simply assembly points, theoretically it is now possible to buy "Russian-made" Peugeots, Fords and Hyundais. There are no Mercedes plants in the country yet, but BMW has an assembly plant in the Baltic city of Kaliningrad.

Mr Putin has tried in the past to promote Russian cars. In 2010, he drove more than 1,000 miles across Siberia in a canary-yellow Lada Kalina to promote the firm's new sports car, though the image was slightly spoilt by a video posted online by locals that showed the Lada being trailed by a motorcade of around 100 cars – most of them foreign-made.

It was also confirmed that the new ruling on domestically produced cars would not apply to Mr Putin himself or other top-rank officials.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own