Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of fabled AK-47 automatic rifle, has died. He was 94.
Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported the news on Monday, citing the office of the presidency in the Udmurtia region where he worked.
“It is difficult and sad to realize that Mikhail Kalashnikov is no longer with us. We have lost one of the most talented, memorable and committed patriots of Russia, who served his country throughout his life,” said the statement from the press secretary of the Udmurtia administration Viktor Chulkov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed “deep condolences” over the death of the engineer.
Kalashnikov who continued working well into his nineties, had been suffering from heart and intestinal problems, and on November 17 was admitted been in intensive care in Izhevsk – where the plant that produces the eponymous rifles is located. The official cause of death will be revealed following a mandatory autopsy.
A public funeral will be organized by the regional administration, in consultation with surviving relatives, though no date has been named so far.
Kalashnikov designed a weapon that became synonymous with killing on a sometimes indiscriminate scale but was seen in the Soviet Union as a national hero and symbol of Moscow’s proud military past.
Born November 10, 1919, Kalashnikov was most famous for developing the AK-47, AKM, and AK-74 assault rifles. During his career, he designed about 150 models of small weapons.
Kalashnikov married Ekaterina Viktorovna Moiseyeva who died in 1977 aged 56. She was an engineer and did much technical drawing work for her husband. They had four children: daughters Nelli, 71, Elena, 65 and Natalya, who died at 30, and a son Victor, 71. Victor also became a prominent small arms designer.
Some of his famous quotes are:
“I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.”
“Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.”
“I created a weapon to defend the borders of my motherland. It’s not my fault that it’s being used where it shouldn’t be. The politicians are more to blame for this.”
“When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.”