Avoiding Traffic Jams:
The Russian President prefers to fly by helicopter than travel by car and he has been using this type of transport actively for several years now, sometimes leaving armored limousines in his garage.
Vladimir Putin prefers Russian made technology and that is why he flies exclusively on Russian Mi-8. Noticing the president’s interest in the helicopter, holding ‘Helicopters of Russia’ decided to develop a new improved version of the Mi with a better-quality interior for a more comfortable journey.
The layout of the new VIP cabin was demonstrated to Putin a few years ago. The improved Mi-8 is sound proof; it has leather armchairs and a sofa, mood lighting, a huge TV and all kinds of home appliances — from refrigerators to coffeemakers.
During last year’s International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS, the Russian President examined a ready-made mockup of the helicopter and even invited the prince of the United Arab Emirates to take a look. It seems that there must be something inside it that will surprise the monarch who is undoubtedly used to luxuries himself.
Riding in Style:
On the ground, Vladimir Putin travels around in a Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman. There are 11 such vehicles registered in the Federal Security Service.
In total there are 48 Mercedes-Benz S600 in the treasury of the Federal Security Service. Each car costs somewhere between 6 million to 64 million rubles with four cars set at a price more expensive than 60 million rubles.
Putin did not only ride in limousines, but also in minibuses. As a president, he dramatically increased the number of visits across the country. Therefore special minivans were manufactured with special protection body with 8-10 seats, which can comfortably accommodate him and his entourage.
Being the driver of top politicians is no light matter. The applicant has to pass a serious psycho-physiological test and training to drive in extreme conditions.
In addition, the driver has to have worked in the operational division of the FSO. Only after that can one apply to be the president or prime minister’s driver.
Overall, training and tests take somewhat between seven and fifteen years.
The president has more than ten drivers. All of them are high-class professionals, but even then they train once a week. The trainings include mandatory shooting while driving, driving in conditions which simulate ice, driving through water barriers and explosions.
They say that after each such training the drivers lose around several pounds. Their working day begins with a medical examination, instructions and analysis of recent accidents in Moscow.
The presidential motorcade is transported by a special cargo squad aboard ‘Rossiya’ aeroplanes. During a visit to Vienna in June 2014, the Russian President Procession consisted of 27 cars and 10 motorcycles — mostly Austrian police.
The cars that definitely belonged to the Russian President included a limousine and several minibuses with alarm systems. The city officials did not block the traffic but asked the oncoming traffic to stay to the right.
For security reasons during presidential trips across Russia the license plate is not placed on the front of the vehicle.
As a result, when several identical vehicles pass by, the onlooker cannot tell them apart. The back room is needed for guiding the security personnel. This tradition has been in place since the time of Joseph Stalin. During foreign trips much depends on how the host country is willing to receive the delegation.
New Presidential Term Means New Car:
At the end of 2017, the presidential garage will receive new cars from the ‘Cortege’ project. This means that the audience will see the newest addition most likely during the next presidential inauguration.
The Cortege project is being created on the orders of the government since 2013. On the basis of a single platform, developed by the Moscow Scientific Research Automobile and Engine Institute, it is planned to start commercial production of limousines and sedans, SUVs and minivans.
According to the plan a wealthy buyer will be able to buy the same car as the president, although it will have less security features.
By 2020, it is expected that 4-5 thousand cars will be produced under the Cortege project. In 2015, the budget allocation for the project amounted to 3.6 billion rubles, in 2016 another 3.7 billion were added.
In Air and Underwater:
The Russian fleet includes Il-96-300 and Tu-214 planes. The Sukhoi Super jet 100 is set to join the fleet soon. The squad also has a flying point of control — this aircraft is equipped with special communications systems, allowing the president to negotiate and manage the nuclear forces of Russia in encrypted mode.
All departures of these aircraft are made from the Vnukovo-2 government airport.
The main presidential plane is a much modified version of the Il-96 passenger. In flight, the head of state can contact any agency, institution and conduct international calls or conference calls.
Vladimir Putin can move about not only in the air but on water as well. The President has two yachts, three ships, seven boats and one sailing catamaran. This unusual means of transport used by the President is provided to him by other organizations.
For example, the bathyscaphe which Putin used to inspect sunken Byzantine ship at the bottom of the Black Sea belonged to the Russian Geographical Society.