Monday, January 13, 2014

Global Impact: General Kalashnikov Dies at 94, Having Asked for Forgiveness for Creating the "AK"

According to the BBC, Mikhail Kalashnikov, 94, the inventor of the Kalashnikov assault rifle known as the AK-47 apparently wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church before he died on December 23 expressing fears he was personally responsible for the people it killed.

Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov was a Russian general and small arms designer, who in 1949 had his famous rifle adopted as the assault rifle of choice by the Soviet Army. In time, the “AK” design was adopted by well over 30 nations and became even better known as the preferred weapon of rebels, insurgents, kidnappers and thugs of all sorts.

General Kalashnikov was born on November 10, 1919 and died on December 23, 2013.

Before his death, Kalashnikov wrote a long emotional letter to Patriarch Kirill in May 2012, church officials say. He said he was suffering "spiritual pain" over the many deaths it caused. Kalashnikov had previously refused to accept responsibility for those killed.

The “AK” is one of the world's most familiar and widely used weapons. Its comparative simplicity made it inexpensive to manufacture, as well as reliable and easy to maintain. It is thought that more than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide.

COMMENT: "It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon," Kalashnikov said in 2008. Kalashnikov's daughter, Elena, has said that reportedly a priest helped her father compose the letter. In his letter to Patriarch Kirill, Kalashnikov said that he first went into a church at the age of 91 and was later baptized.

The press secretary for the Russian Patriarch, Cyril Alexander Volkov, told the paper the religious leader had received Kalashnikov's letter and had written a reply.

"The Church has a very definite position: when weapons serve to protect the Fatherland, the Church supports both its creators and the soldiers who use it," Volkov was quoted as saying. [Kalashnikov]…designed this rifle to defend his country, not so terrorists could use it in Saudi Arabia."

Kalashnikov received many Russian state honors, including the Order of Lenin and the Hero of Socialist Labor, but earned very little money from his famous assault rifle.

Kalashnikov died on December 23, 2013, after being admitted to hospital a month earlier with internal bleeding.

Although General Kalashnikov invented the "AK" when it was most needed by Russia, the weapon's simplicity and low production cost caused it to be used primarily by desperadoes, thugs, rebels, terrorists and the world's worst foes.

Yet, before his death, the man who invented the "AK," no doubt, was emotionally pained by his invention and at 91 was baptized.