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GM Car Assembly Begins In Kaliningrad

KALININGRAD, Russia -- U.S. carmaker General Motors (GM) has started assembling Opel Astra and Opel Zafira automobiles at the Avtotor plant in the Russian Baltic port city of Kaliningrad, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

In the first stage, cars will be assembled in Kaliningrad with bodies brought from Opel factories in Germany. But by 2011 the car bodies are expected to be made and painted in Kaliningrad.

GM and Avtotor are investing about 50 million euros ($75 million) in the project. Avtotor is currently assembling GM's Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Hummer models. In addition, BMW, KIA, and several types of motorcycles and trucks are being produced at the plant.

Avtotor announced last month that it would stop assembling cars for the
Chinese automaker Chery.

Russian carmakers, led by AvtoVAZ, have announced layoffs of more than 30,000 workers in recent months.