Who or what is URAL?

To get an overview about origin and history, let's quote Wikipedia:

"The origins of the IMZ-Ural are closely linked to developments in the Eastern Front of World War II. The Soviet Union was preparing for possible military action by the German Third Reich, led by Adolf Hitler, then the dictator of Nazi Germany. Joseph Stalin ordered the Soviet military to prepare in all possible areas, including the ground forces that would be defending the Soviet Union against the invading German panzer tanks, storm troopers, and German special forces. (...) The official version reads that after long discussion the BMW R71 motorcycle was found to most closely match the requirements and five units were covertly purchased through some Swedish intermediaries and copied.

Soviet engineers in Moscow busily dismantled the 5 BMWs. They copied the BMW design in every detail and made moulds and dies to produce their own engines and gearboxes in Moscow. Everything about the bike was reverse engineered and early in 1941 the first trial samples of M-72 motorcycles were shown to Stalin and the decision was taken to produce them. (...)

A more likely story is that the BMW factory supplied the construction drawings and casting moulds. As a result of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact transfers of technology had taken place to support their Soviet "friends" in different areas. (...)

In 1941 BMW began series production of R75, and did not resume production of R71. Supplying the Soviets with this superseded model would have seemed a good idea at the time. This would also explain why the Soviets ended up making a copy of the Wehrmacht sidecar.

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