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Mikhail Kalashnikov Dies: Inventor of AK-47 Assault Rifle Was 94

Image: Mikhail Kalashnikov Dies: Inventor of AK-47 Assault Rifle Was 94

By Morgan Chilson   |   Monday, 23 Dec 2013 03:23 PM

Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, famed for inventing the AK-47 assault rifle, died Monday at age 94

The AK-47 is considered one of the best guns ever made, but also involved in many brutal conflicts causing many deaths. Russia’s ITAR-TASS News Agency reported Kalashnikov’s death and quoted the phrase the inventor said that became iconic: “I will be the first one to shake the hand of the person who creates a better rifle.”

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Kalashnikov was born a peasant and never finished high school. In the Russian army, his “innate mechanical skills” and willingness to study weapons brought him from his lower position in the Red Army to a senior position manufacturing Soviet arms and also six terms on the Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union, The New York Times said.

RT.com reported that Kalashnikov, who was known for living a thrifty lifestyle, was hailed as a hero in Russia, but was constantly questioned by the media about whether he regretted inventing the gun that is known for its use by terrorists.

His answers varied over time, but primarily RT reported that Kalashnikov’s response was, “I invented it for the protection of the Motherland. I have no regrets and bear no responsibility for how politicians have used it."

Once, though, he said, “I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists,” RT reported. “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawnmower.”

In a museum about Kalashnikov in his home of Izshevsk, there are other inventions from the general, including what the online publication described as an “ingenious mechanical lawnmower.”

Kalashnikov continued to work into his 90s. He died after being in the hospital since November with heart and intestinal problems.

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