MOSCOW (AP) – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is showing off his new Russian-made SUV, part of his bid to support domestic car makers during Russia’s severe financial crisis.

Putin appeared before journalists Saturday behind the wheel of his new khaki-colored Niva, which is produced by Russia’s biggest car maker Avtovaz.

A pleased-looking Putin invited reporters to take a ride, according to Russian television footage. Appearing at his Black Sea residence in the Olympic city of Sochi, Putin said he would use the three-door, stick-shift car to go fishing.

Putin has urged Russians to support domestic producers – especially automobile makers – against their foreign competitors as the economy struggles amid the global financial crisis.

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