RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin became the first passenger to ride the Kazan metro when it opened on August 27.

He was joined for the 1·2 km trip from Kremlyovskaya to Ploschad Tukaya by Tatarstan's premier Mintimer Shamiyev and Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Judrina, and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev who was in Kazan to celebrate the Tatarstan capital's millennium.

Following the official celebrations, the metro was opened for public service at 14.30. Using a fleet of four-car EMUs built in St Petersburg, Kazan Metro is providing a 7min interval service on the 7·1 km Central line between Kremlyovskaya and Gorki, serving three intermediate stations.

A short extension from Gorki to Prospekt Pobedy is due to open in 2006; in the longer term, the city hopes to complete a three-line network totalling 46 km.