Who could fail to appreciate the delicious ironies offered up by Vladimir Putin’s trip to the Lada plant in Tolyatti yesterday? The Prime Minister’s taste in cars has always been ostentatiously jingoistic. Last summer saw him smashing Russia’s reputation for dodgy gear boxes and creaking ignition with a highly-publicized four-day drive across Siberia in a Lada Kalina. Yesterday’s trip to the Avtovaz plant in Tolyatti was doubtless intended to reap similarly photogenic results.
The car in question this time round is the new Lada Granta model, which, at 5,000 dollars, has been marketed as the ‘people’s car‘, being the cheapest automobile on the European market. Unsurprising therefore that the Prime Minister picked the moment to promote his newly engineered All Russia’s People Front toa group of Avtovaz employees, at a meeting with the country’sEngineering Association, one of 16 interest groups that said it wouldjoin the hastily concocted, national identity cementing organization. We could only call it inauspicious therefore that it took the formerPresident five attempts beforemanaging to start the Granta, before concluding that the redeemingfeature of the motor of the demos was its large boot, which could hold “two sacks of potatoes”. Will he will have any more luck maneuvering the populace?