AK-47 Inventor Mihail Kalashnikov Celebrates Turning 90
The Russian inventor of the globally popular AK-47 assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, has declared himself a happy man on his 90th birthday Tuesday.
"I created a weapon to defend the fatherland's borders. It's not my fault that it was sometimes used where it shouldn't have been. This is the fault of politicians," Kalashnikov said during an award ceremony at the Kremlin.
Bulgaria has always been one of the main producers of the AK-47 and is also blamed by the Russian official manufacturers for being one of the countries that produces counterfeit AK-47s that cost the company USD 360 M annually.
Kalashnikov was handed the prestigious Hero of Russia prize by President Dmitry Medvedev, who hailed the AK-47 as "a brilliant example of Russian weaponry" and "a national brand which evokes pride in each citizen."
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin praised Kalashnikov as a "truly legendary" figure while state television was filled with tributes to the 90-year-old inventor.
Kalashnikov is considered a national hero in Russia for designing the AK-47, a rifle whose name stands for "Kalashnikov's Automatic" and the year it was designed, 1947.
More than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide and they are wielded by fighters in such far-flung conflict zones as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. But their inventor, a World War II veteran, has barely profited financially from them and lives modestly in Izhevsk, an industrial town 1 300 km east of Moscow.
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