A statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47 rifle that has become the world’s most widespread assault weapon, was unveiled in the Russian capital city of Moscow earlier this week.
The monument was commissioned by the Russian Military History Society and was installed in time for the Day of the Armourer, celebrated in Russia on September 19, Al Jazeera reported.
At the military ceremony organised for the occasion, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, who also heads the Military History Society, described the Kalashnikov rifle as a “cultural brand” of Russia. Its creator was “the embodiment of the best features” of the Russian people, he said.
Not everyone agreed with him.
Аt the ceremony, a young man held up a poster that read, “Designer of weapons = designer of death”. He was quickly taken away by the police.
Later on Tuesday, Russian rock star Andrei Makarevich wrote on Facebook: “A statue of Kalashnikov? So that’s what we should be proud of. If we count how many people his weapon killed around the world, it would be millions. The AKM appeared after the war with the fascists [World War II], so then where did it defend our borders? In Afghanistan? Ukraine? Georgia? Africa?”
Kalashnikov designed “Avtomat Kalashnikova”, which became the standard issue rifle of the Soviet army, in 1947 – hence the abbreviation AK-47.
Today, it is the most commonly used assault rifle in the world, widely perceived as a highly reliable and sturdy weapon.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union not only sent shipments of AK-47s to various friendly and allied countries worldwide, but it also transferred its technology of production.
As a result, dozens of countries – from Nigeria through Israel to China – now produce variants of the AK-47 and contribute to the global proliferation of small arms, which feeds various armed campaigns around the world.
“As a former Soviet satellite and a key arms exporter to Soviet allies, my country, Bulgaria, has also participated; Bulgarian weapons dealers and military officials I’ve talked to brag about the Bulgarian “kalashnik” being the best quality,” journalist Mariya Petkova wrote in her blog for Al Jazeera.
“Needless to say, the AK-47 has also been widely used in all the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. It has also been part of massive transfers of weapons that the United States and its allies have carried out over the past few years and which, according to various human rights organisations, have been used to commit war crimes and grave human rights violations,” she wrote.