Putin tries out 'Yo-Mobile' to visit Medvedev

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Eschewing his usual chauffeur-driven limousine, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday sat down behind the wheel of a small hybrid car to call on his Kremlin successor Dmitry Medvedev.

Speaking at a government meeting, Putin said he was taking the car to Medvedev's presidential Gorky residence, located a short drive from his own Novo-Ogaryovo residence just outside Moscow.

The test drive was the latest in a series of Putin's widely publicised stunts that previously included driving a canary-yellow Lada across Siberia and racing a Formula One car last year.

Friday's good-humoured motoring in the Moscow suburbs also comes as Moscow was buzzing with speculation over whether there is a split between the two men ahead of presidential polls early next year.

Considered the junior partner in the tandem, Medvedev this week launched a campaign to oust Putin's allies from corporate boards in a bid to dismantle a system of state control over the economy built under his predecessor.

Putin has not so far commented on Medvedev's proposals, with national television instead showing a confident, smiling prime minister quipping about the car's name -- the Yo-Mobile.

"Well, the name ... It's unclear where you got it from," he told its billionaire creator Mikhail Prokhorov before getting behind the wheel of the white and blue sports coupe.

Prokhorov is spearheading the effort to develop the car which is due to come on the market in 2012, a first in a country where motorists show scant regard for the environment.

Praising the car as a "completely new product," Putin said he could only form an opinion after test-driving it.

"We are going to have a Security Council meeting now, I want to take your Yo-Mobile to Dmitry Anatoliyevich (Medvedev) and show it to him.

"The Yo-Mobile will not fall apart along the way, will it?" the premier said in televised remarks.

As suspence builds up ahead of 2012 presidential elections, analysts have in the past weeks pointed to signs of tensions which Putin and Medvedev's minders regularly deny.

Both men said they may run but neither one has confirmed his intention so far.

© 2011 AFP

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