Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, dies at 94

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The renowned Russian weapons maker behind the AK-47 assault rifle died at the age of 94 after a long illness.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

"Today sad news has arrived that Mikhail Kalashnikov has died after a lengthy illness." Viktor Chulkov, spokesman for the president of the Udmurt Republic presidential spokesman

The government of Udmurtia, a region within the Russian Federation 800 miles east of Moscow, announced Dec. 23 that Mikhail Kalashnikov had died in a hospital in Izhevsk, the capital of the region, at the age of 94. No cause of death was given.

Kalashnikov aspired to design farm equipment, but will be remembered for his iconic AK-47 -- "Avtomat Kalashnikov" -- assault rifle. An estimated 100 million AK-47s have been built since the rifle was introduced in 1947. "Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov. Copyright 2014 Reuters

Kalashnikov aspired to design farm equipment, but will be remembered for his iconic AK-47 -- "Avtomat Kalashnikov" -- assault rifle. An estimated 100 million AK-47s have been built since the rifle was introduced in 1947. "Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov.

Kalashnikov was born in Siberia in 1919, the 17th child of a peasant family. He never finished high school and joined the tank brigade ahead of World War II, during which time he showed an aptitude for engineering. He was decorated with numerous honors over his lifetime, but never became rich since his invention wasn't patented.

"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence." Mikhail Kalashnikov

Kalashnikov has said in the past that he didn't regret inventing one of the world's most deadly and ubiquitous weapons. "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he once said.

"My spiritual torment is unbearable. One and the same question: if my rifle killed people does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, 93 years of age, the son of a peasant, Christian and orthodox by faith, am responsible for people's deaths, even if they were enemies?" Mikhail Kalashnikov

Six months before his death in Dec. 2013, Kalashnikov wrote the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to express remorse over the AK-47. The letter was published by a Russian media outlet Jan. 13.

The Kalashnikov group, Russia's largest arms manufacturer, said it is going to turn the former office of Mikhail Kalashnikov into a small museum "for the edification of our young [employees], whom we'll bring to the [manufacturing] plant, said Kalashnikov head Konstantin Busygin.

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