Episode 1

Russia on Four Wheels Episode 1 of 2

Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani set off across Russia on two massive road-trips across the world's biggest, and one of its most enigmatic, countries. A former superpower and more recently a struggling giant, Russia is looking to assert itself once again on the world stage. With millions of square miles of land, a wealth of natural resources, the largest automobile market in Europe, diverse borders and trading partners aplenty, Russia has the potential to become one of the richest and most dynamic nations on earth. But 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, how far has Russia left its Cold War past behind? And what direction will the country take? Driving thousands of miles in three weeks, and in two very different cars, Justin and Anita find out. Anita and Justin begin their journeys in Sochi, the Black Sea resort home to the 2014 Winter Olympics, the most expensive games ever. Full of futuristic architecture, this is new Russia's glittering showcase to the world, but just round the corner from the glitzy stadiums is Joseph Stalin's old dacha, a reminder that in Russia the old and the new are often very close. Anita is out to discover 'new' Russia. She travels north and west from Sochi in a Kombat, a Russian built luxury armoured plated bling machine - her oligarch tank. She enters a thriving world of westernised entrepreneurs, the mega-rich and rebellious youth, people who are at the forefront of shaping a new and vibrant Russia. On her first leg she drives to the western port of Taganrog, enters a vast iron ore mine near Kursk, and makes her way up to Kaluga, a city once at the heart of one of Russia's poorest regions, and now a centre of industry with western factories including Volkswagen transforming its fortunes. Meanwhile Justin heads east into 'old' Russia where he encounters a very different world in his chosen vehicle: a slightly battered Soviet-built UAZ 'jeep' first designed in the 1940s for the Red Army. He meets traditional Russians and encounters a land that seems hardly to have changed since before the Cold War years. On the first half of his journey, Justin drives to a vast farm, once a Soviet Collective, before making his way alongside the Volga, Russia's 'Mother River', and to Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) where he meets WWII veterans of the Battle of Stalingrad, before heading to the vast Lada car factory.

50 minutes

Last on

Sun 2 Feb 2014 15:10 GMT

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Role Contributor
PresenterJustin Rowlatt
PresenterAnita Rani
DirectorSteven Grandison
DirectorSimon Phillips
Executive ProducerCameron Balbirnie