Developing cooperation with foreign automakers is one of the ways to boost Russia's stagnant auto industry, president Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Putin was answering questions from Russians via live television broadcast.

"We should provide suitable conditions to attract these (foreign) companies to Russia," Putin said, according to Prime-Tass.

"If our economy has conditions that make domestic production and exports to Russia more favourable for foreign companies, Russia's auto industry will not have any outlooks for development," Putin also said. He said that "Volkswagen and Mercedes" were interested in launching production in Russia.

Economic development and trade minister German Gref said earlier that General Motors and Hyundai, Kia and SsangYong are already in agreements with Russian companies to assemble their models in Russia from kits.

The joint venture Avtoframos and several other auto producers, including GM, BMW and Kia, also assemble vehicles on Russia's territory.

General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai, Renault and Ford are not alone in their interest in the Russian market, as major international automakers DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Japan's Nissan Motors have also expressed interest in establishing plants in Russia.

With regards to right hand drive cars used in the Russian Far East, Putin said that at the moment there are no bans on using these cars in Russia.

"At least, there is no ban that I am aware of," he added. Any decisions concerning these cars "should be balanced, lest any harm would be caused to consumers," the president said.

However, the president expressed his concern about road accidents involving RHD cars. He made an example of the August 8 car accident that killed the governor of Russia's Altai Region Mikhail Yevdokimov.

Russians drive on the right side of the road, though foreign-made RHD vehicles are widespread in Russia's Far East and Siberia. The majority of these vehicles are imported [used] from Japan.

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