I see that several car manufacturers are reporting buoyant sales in Russia this year. Russia has its problems of course and the Russian economy still has a long way to go but my impression is that Putin is doing a reasonable job overall. People who criticise the pace of change in Russia are probably forgetting the wayward antics just a few years ago of Boris Yeltsin or the fact that Russians have seen great upheaval in their daily lives over the past ten years. The vehicle makers were cautious about investing in Russia, but GM and Ford certainly seem to have grasped that particular nettle now. Ford sold just over 3,000 units in Russia in the first quarter against 1,100 in the same period last year and is claiming that it has 9,000 pre-paid orders for the locally-made Focus. The big question though is what margins are being made on these sales. Buying power in Russia is still quite weak and locally-made products are still very cheap as well as in plentiful supply. Local producers appear to be losing out though - Russian consumers are drawn to better quality Western brands. If they continue to lose out, will local producers ask the Russian government for more protection?