Bulgaria Accused by Russia of Illegally Producing Kalashnikov Guns in US

Politics | November 20, 2008, Thursday // 00:00

The Americans have allowed Bulgaria to built a plant producing the Kalashnikov sub-machine gun to be sold in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Director for Special Assignments of the Russian Rosoboronexport State Corporation Nikolay Demedyuk stated on Wednesday cited by ITAR-TASS.

Rosoboronexport is the Russian federal state unitary enterprise acting as the sole Russian state intermediary agency for export and import of military and dual-purpose products, technologies and services.

The statement is a renewed Rosoboronexport attack on Bulgaria over the country's alleged illegal manufacturing of the Russian sub-machine gun.

Demedyuk pointed out that 7-8 counties worldwide, Bulgaria in particular, were involved in illegal gun production, adding that he would not name the other culprits because he did not wan to "offend" them.

According to the high ranking Rosoboronexport employee, no one outside Russia had the license to produce the "Kalashnikov" because such licenses have expired after the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact.

Rosoboronexport further insists that Kalashnikov guns are produced by the "Arsenal" plant in the Bulgarian town of Kazanluk and are based on the Russian AK 47 - a much improved version of the Kalashnikov, quite different than the original gun and in compliance with international standards.

The Russians stated that the "Arsenal" production was undercutting the gun prices on international tenders citing as example a 2003 tender for the supply of 40,000 sub-machine guns for the Iraqi army for USD 65 each won by Arsenal and lost by the Russian "Kalashnikov" manufacturer.

The price of the Bulgarian gun is allegedly several times lower than the one of the Russian ones.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Economy of Energy issued a statement on Thursday refuting the information that Bulgaria was manufacturing the "Kalashnikov" gun in the US.

The Ministry further says that the "Arsenal" plant had all documents and licenses needed for its production.

Just a month ago experts form the Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Russian Commission for economic and technical partnership negotiated with Russia to give up taxes for the production of the "Kalashnikov" gun in Bulgaria.

Recently, the US State Department accused Rosoboronexport of selling dual-purpose technologies to Iran, North Korea and Syria and imposed sanctions on them, defined by the Russian agency as "unfair competition."

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