Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian who designed an assault rifle that has killed more people than any other firearm, has died at the age of 94. He passed away in his home city of Izhevsk near the Ural mountains, where his gun is still made, reports Russian state news agency Itar-Tass.
His name became iconic, like Colt or Gatling before him, because of an instrument of death; the iconic AK-47 assault rifle, better known as the Kalashnikov.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was born in 1919 in Kouria, the 17th of 19 children in a Kulak farming family. Deported by Stalin, who seized the land for collectivisation, little Mikhail lived in Siberia until age 11.
He became a tank driver and was injured in 1941 as the Germans invaded. Convalescing in hospital he doodled a small, rapid, and reliable assault rifle. The state picked up on his design and began production of the Avtomat Kalashnikova in 1947 in the Ijmach factory in Izhevsk, in the Ural mountains. It was a huge success.
More than 100 million are thought to be in use around the world today.
Kalashnikov said: “Everything that is complicated is useless; everything useful is simple. That’s always been my motto.”
His assault rifle has become Russia’s most famous brand, synonymous with ‘made in Russia’, and a quality standard so recognised it has been much imitated and forged. The self-taught engineer complained about this on a visit to the late Hugo Chavez.
“There are countries that make Kalashnikov guns without licence. That is plain theft. It is completely illegal,” he said.
Kalashnikov never felt responsible for unlawful or terrorist acts committed by men using his weapon. That was the fault of others, he repeated.
“Any weapon should only be in the hands of armies to defend their countries, and the fact that there are so many weapons around has nothing to do with the designer. It is the fault of the politicians.”
But he was proud of the legendary status accorded his creation. He claimed even the Americans would have preferred it in Vietnam.
“I saw American soldiers throwing away their M16 rifles and picking up the soviet AK-47 rifles. But it did not stop there. I (saw) it in Iraq again. In bad (climate) conditions, the M16 rifle does not work properly.”
Entering his nineties, Kalashnikov became a Hero of Russia, decorated by President Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow. This followed other decorations, notably the Lenin, Stalin, and Hero of Soviet Labour prizes.
Copyright © 2015 euronewsMore about:
- 1Greeks like the sound of Syriza talking tough, but hope it has more than just words to offer
- 273-year-old Sicilian Sergio Mattarella is Italy’s new president
- 3Podemos holds biggest rally yet in Spanish capital and promises election earthquake
- 4ISIL posts video of the beheading of second Japanese hostage Kenji Goto
- 5Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine as government forces struggle to hold back pro-Russian offensive
- 173-year-old Sicilian Sergio Mattarella is Italy’s new president
- 2Funeral of singer Demis Roussos held in Athens
- 3No more Troika talks as Greece seeks new debt deal
- 4Greece warned against reversing austerity as it rejects bailout administrators
- 544 police commandos killed in anti-terror op mourned in Philippines
- 1Greek elections: SYRIZA on course to win, but may fall short of majority
- 2French co-pilot was at controls of doomed AirAsia passenger plane say investigators
- 373-year-old Sicilian Sergio Mattarella is Italy’s new president
- 4Japan and Jordan join forces to secure release of two of their nationals from the hands of ISIL
- 5Ukrainian rebel attacks on city of Mariupol are condemned by the UN as a war crime
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2The power of the pen: Cartoonists worldwide react to the Charlie Hebdo attack | euronews, world news
- 3Immigration, racism in sport and the rise of extremism – Cantona shares his views | euronews, interview
- 4[LIVE] 12 dead after gun attack at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo | euronews, world news
- 5[LIVE NOW] Massive unity rally in Paris, with similar marches in other French cities | euronews, world news
- 6Muslim groups fear backlash after terrorist attacks in Paris | euronews, news
- 7[LIVE] Confusion over reports two killed in Paris shootout, as police close in on Charlie Hebdo suspects | euronews, world news
- 8“ISIL is the baby of George W Bush” | euronews, news
- 9Medieval Bruges is to get its own underground beer pipeline | euronews, world news
- 10Almost four million turn out for unity rallies across France | euronews, world news
- 11International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 12eurovibes - a selection of Europe’s best music talent
- 13NewsWires : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 14A defiant Charlie Hebdo: it’s not the front page the terrorists would’ve wanted | euronews, world news
- 15euronews apps : iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Nokia S40, Nokia Asha, Smart TV and Google Glass
- 16Key questions around the Charlie Hebdo killings go unanswered | euronews, world news
- 17Getting to know Sir Tony and “the world’s greatest tenor” | euronews, musica
- 18HarperCollins wipes Israel off the map | euronews, world news
- 19International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 20Charlie Hebdo: Israeli paper deletes women from Paris march | euronews, world news
Wires > News
- 16:49 CET Blast targeting bus near Shi’ite shrine in Damascus kills six
- 16:40 CET Jailed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste leaves Egypt for…
- 16:39 CET Hold Death toll mounts in Ukraine fighting after peace talks fail
- 15:47 CET U.S., allies conduct 34 air strikes against Islamic State – …
- 14:34 CET Mali armed groups clash near Timbuktu – security sources
- 14:25 CET Pope Francis to visit Sarajevo in June
- 14:12 CET Boko Haram attacks northeast Nigeria’s main city – witnesses
- 14:09 CET Exclusive – Some charities to refuse money from U.S. financier…