Chechen Factory Rolls Out First Cars

A new factory in Chechnya assembled its first cars Thursday, the Chechen government said, in a boost for the Kremlin, which wants to present the war-scarred region as rejuvenated.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who drives himself around the region in a 4x4 Porsche and owns a Ferrari, will receive the first VAZ-21074 car -- a small, boxy Lada model, a statement on the Chechen government's web site said.

Moscow has backed Kadyrov, a 31-year-old former rebel, to bring stability to the region.

Over the past few years, workmen have repaved Chechnya's roads and reconstructed the capital, Grozny, once described by the United Nations as the most destroyed city in the world.

The factory in Grozny is a deal with carmaker AvtoVAZ and the statement said it would boost production from Thursday's initial two cars to 20 per day and provide around 10,000 jobs -- badly needed in the republic, where unemployment is around 75 percent.