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General Motors beats a retreat out of Russia

MOSCOW - General Motors (GM) is to slash production in economically troubled Russia and pull the Opel brand completely in the face of shrinking sales.

Mass-market GM brands have been among the biggest losers as Russia's auto market shrinks, with sales of Chevrolet down 74 percent year on year in February and those of Opel plummeting 86 percent.

Opel will leave the Russian market, with Chevrolet production cut back significantly to focus on top-end products such as the Corvette sports car and Tahoe SUV.

In a statement, GM president Dan Ammann said the move "avoids significant investment into a market that has very challenging long-term prospects."

GM's factory in St. Petersburg will "halt production by the middle of 2015," the company said.

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