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From the Lada to the Siber, a look at the country's auto history

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It may be in a recession, but Russia is regaining some of its financial fire power. And what better way to demonstrate this than to finally secure a successful domestic auto industry?


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Opel cars in front of the factory.


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The streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg feature some of the worst traffic jams on the planet. They are plugged with Nissans, Renaults, Daewoos, Mercedes and other foreign brands. The Russian auto industry has long relied on the expertise of foreign car companies.


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Visitors stroll through one of Europe’s largest auto dealerships, a stunning glass building in Moscow with room for 400 cars. In this seven-storey complex, 18 foreign brands are on display.


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Russia’s oldest auto maker is GAZ, which began life as the Gorky Automobile Factory after the 1917 October Revolution. Here, children in St. Petersburg take a ride on an historic 1941 GAZ truck used to bring food to citizens of seiged Leningrad during the World War Two.

Alexander Demianchuck

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The Russian government and Fiat launched the AvtoVAZ car company in the late 1960s, producing the boxy Fiat 124 sedan known as the Lada. It was exported to Canada in the late 1970s and the 1990s. Here, some Russian farmers find a new use for the vehicle.

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Workers assemble trucks at the GAZ car factory in Nizhny Novgorod. GAZ is the industrial partner in the deal to buy Opel, which Russia hopes will bring in Opel’s expertise and a chance of a technical breakthrough in its ailing car industry.


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Workers assemble KIA Sportage automobiles in Kaliningrad.

Oleg Nikishin/2004 Getty Images

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Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska visits the GAZ car factory in Nizhny Novgorod. His empty GAZ factories would be retooled to make Opels, if the deal is successful.


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Workers assemble a Volga Siber, built by GAZ on the same platform as the Chrysler Sebring, at the car factory in Nizhny Novgorod.


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