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.
- 1We will not be moved! Resistance to China’s urban spread [PHOTOS]
- 2British probe into child sex abuse reveals 1400 suspects
- 3Netanyahu supports call for a two-state solution with Palestinians
- 4ISIL controls more than half of Syria after seizing Palmyra
- 5EU refusal to accept migrant quotas ‘unacceptable’
- 1Snowden, Assange and Manning statues unveiled in Berlin | euronews, world news
- 2Chomsky says US is world’s biggest terrorist | euronews, the global conversation
- 3euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 4Anti-ISIL demonstrations turn violent in Ethiopia | euronews, no comment
- 5Nepal: ‘equally big earthquakes coming in eastern regions,’ expert tells euronews | euronews, world news
- 6It’s a girl: Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge gives birth in London | euronews, world news
- 7How Nepal earthquake devastated Kathmandu’s UNESCO heritage | euronews, world news
- 8Chernobyl Children: what makes Ukrainians born in 1986 different? | euronews, world news
- 9International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 10Exclusive: unrest in FYR Macedonia could hit other Balkan countries warns Serbian PM | euronews, world news
- 11International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 12Andrea Ferrari: the graphene guru | euronews, science
- 13Portuguese language reform law goes global | euronews, world news
- 14Watch: France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen clashes with UKIP MEP Woolfe | euronews, world news
- 15Energy-generating clothes and smart lights join the Internet of Things | euronews, hi-tech
- 16How young translators are helping knit European culture together | euronews, generation y
- 17EU membership remains Serbia’s priority, says PM Aleksandar Vucic | euronews, the global conversation
- 18Spain: the viral soldiers fighting in Madrid and Barcelona mayoral races | euronews, world news
- 19Portuguese researchers discover the secret of Mind Control | euronews, futuris
- 20How World War II shaped modern Poland | euronews, world news
Wires > News
- 20:12 CET U.N. investigates reports of executions, abuses in Mali
- 19:47 CET Suicide bomber kills 21 at Saudi Shi’ite mosque, Islamic State…
- 19:41 CET U.S., allies conduct 20 air strikes against Islamic State…
- 19:34 CET Hundreds march in Sudan against Mursi death sentence
- 19:22 CET Two killed in grenade attack in Burundi capital
- 19:02 CET EU, ex-Soviet neighbours patch over rifts with eye on Russia
- 18:58 CET Accused arms smuggler left Tunisia for Italy before museum attack…
- 18:53 CET U.S. State Department posts first set of Hillary Clinton emails…