Russian President Vladimir Putin glided across the Kremlin square in a new boxy black Russian-made limousine ahead of Monday’s inauguration, making a break with previous ceremonies when he used a Mercedes-Benz. The new model, called the Senate Limousine, marks a return to the Soviet-era practice of the leaders riding in home-grown ceremonial cars. Soviet leaders rode in ZIL limousines, while the lower-ranking officials had chauffeured Chaikas, or seagulls. Putin rode in a Mercedes Pullman at his previous three inaugurations. The limousine has been in development since 2013 with the project allocated 12.4 billion rubles ($197 million) in state funds. Initial production began last year.
“This is the main automobile intrigue of the last five years,” said a reporter on Rossiya 24 television, boasting that the car is “made in Russia, made with Russian components and made by the hands of Russian specialists.”
The new limo, measuring just over 6000mm is part of a range called #Aurus that will also include a sedan simply called Senate and an MPV called Arsenal, Russian television reported, saying the names were taken from Kremlin towers. The range will also go on sale commercially and will compete in terms of specifications and price with Mercedes-Maybach, Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles.
Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin took over the cars of the former royal family and rode in a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost while Stalin’s favorite car was a Packard. The ZIL-armoured limousines appeared in the 1950s and were used until the mid-1990s, after which officials largely used Mercedes. The Chaika limousine was also developed in the 1950s.