Russia on Tuesday, unveiled the statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle that became, the most lethal weapon ever made and the best known Russian brand abroad, by estimate.
Kalashnikov’s statue is perched atop a pedestal in a tiny square on Moscow’s busy Garden Ring thoroughfare, showing Kalashnikov, who died in 2013, dressed in a bomber jacket and clutching an AK-47 in both hands.
“This weapon is Russia’s defense. It’s one of Russia’s symbols.
“Alas, for life to continue, for lovely children to grow up, for beautiful women in Russia, there must be a weapon,” the monument’s sculptor, Salavat Shcherbakov, told newsmen.
The AK-47, the small-arm mainstay of Russia’s armed forces for over 60 years, is also featured on the national emblems of several African nations and on that of East Timor.
“Every fifth firearm in the world is a Kalashnikov and over 70 million of the assault rifles have been produced over the past 60 years.
“Kalashnikovs are in service in 50 foreign armies,’’ the Kalashnikov concern said on its website.
Military experts say AK-47 has killed more people than all other types of modern weapons taken together.
Kalashnikov, who died at 94, had repeatedly said that pride in his invention was mixed with the pain of seeing it used by criminals and child soldiers.
Embraced by armies, anti-Western revolutionary movements and leftist leaders worldwide, the relatively cheap and sturdy rifle has been used by gangsters, drug traffickers, militants and rebels of all stripes.
The offspring of a large peasant family, Kalashnikov started working on a new automatic firearm for the Soviet Red Army after he was wounded during World War 11.
He won a state competition to select a new weapon, beating the Soviet Union’s best designers of weapons, and it brought him the Stalin Prize.
His first assault rifle was produced in 1947 and there have been numerous modifications since then.
“The Kalashnikov rifle is a true cultural brand of Russia,’’ Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said at the ceremony.
The unveiling of the monument was timed to coincide with Armsmakers’ Day marked in Russia on Tuesday.
Underscoring the importance of the military-industrial complex for Russia’s economy, President Vladimir Putin sent best wishes to the workers of the sector. (Reuters/NAN)