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Horse-drawn carriages in vogue among Russian politicians.
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1200 gmt 20 Feb 03

[Presenter Yelizaveta Listova] The sports and equestrian equipment factory in the Moscow Region makes a safe and environment-friendly transport which is as comfortable as luxury cars. Correspondent Lidiya Belousova reports about a thorough tuning of carriages and sleighs.

[Filipp Shumskiy, chief manager of the factory] When the door of a carriage opens, a door step slides out automatically for convenience.

[Correspondent] One can watch a colour TV set, listen to the music and switch on air conditioning in this carriage. Its price is 7,000 dollars. Sleighs, carriages and two-wheeled carts are mainly bought by politicians and businessmen.

Rumour has it that it is [former Russian prime minister, Russian ambassador to Ukraine] Viktor Chernomyrdin who has set a new fashion for horse-drawn carriages. According to his order several carriages for him to ride in the open air have been made at the factory. [Executive secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus and former Kremlin chief property manager] Pavel Borodin has supported the idea. He bought a cart for Boris Yeltsin to ride in Zavidovo [presidential countryside residence]. After politicians businessmen started to visit the factory.

[Oleg Teplov, chief engineer of the factory of sports and equestrian equipment] Almost all the country [order our products], farmers and workers as well as government members.

[Nina Vukolova, factory's economist] The presidential administration has placed quite a big order with us.

[Correspondent] The factory will turn 165 years old soon...

[Nikita] Khrushchev tried to close the factory several times saying that horse-drawn carriages are a thing of the past.

At present orders [for carriages] are coming from the president's administrative office. Rumour has it that Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to ride in a sleigh in the winter forest all by himself. It's a nice atmosphere for thinking things over.

A traditional Russian troyka [three-horse] sleigh for Putin and [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder to ride in [Moscow's] Kolomenskoye estate was made here, too.

[Shumskiy] You can't surprise people with a Mercedez these days as there are too many of them but to see a carriage in the centre of Moscow is a rare thing. Rumour has it that Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov has plans to make a park zone next to the Kremlin and let carriages ride there and make it look like a corner of old-time Moscow.

[Correspondent] A stable for president's horses has been built in his Novo-Ogarevo residence. The first thouroughbred stallions were a gift to Putin from [former Gazprom chief] Rem Vyakhirev. Harnesses, bridles and horse-cloth are all being ordered from the factory.

One carriage is made manually by 12 people during almost two months. Orders come one after another, for example, officials from the Moscow city government buy pony carts for their children.

[Video shows the factory, state-of-the-art carriages and carts]

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