Russia unveils monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of iconic AK-47 rifle

Russia unveils monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of iconic AK-47 rifle

Russia has unveiled a statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle that became by some estimates the most lethal weapon ever made and the best known Russian brand abroad.

Perched atop a pedestal in a tiny square on Moscow's busy Garden Ring thoroughfare, the statue of Kalashnikov, who died in 2013, has him dressed in a bomber jacket and clutching an AK-47 in both hands.

"I created a weapon for the defence of my fatherland," runs a Kalashnikov quote hewn on the pedestal.

At the unveiling ceremony, a Kremlin guard of honour stood to attention as Russia's national anthem played.

"This weapon is Russia's defence. It's one of Russia's symbols," the monument's sculptor, Salavat Shcherbakov, told reporters.

"Alas, for life to continue, for lovely children to grow up, for beautiful women in Russia, there must be a weapon."

The AK-47, the small-arms mainstay of Russia's armed forces for over 60 years, is also featured on the national emblems of several African nations and on that of East Timor.

Every fifth firearm in the world is a Kalashnikov and more than 70 million of the assault rifles have been produced over the past 60 years, the Kalashnikov concern said on its website.

Kalashnikovs are in service in 50 foreign armies, it said.

The Kalashnikov rifle is "a true cultural brand of Russia", Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said at the ceremony.

The unveiling of the monument was timed to coincide with Armsmakers' Day marked in Russia on Tuesday.

Reuters