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Russia unveils statue of AK-47 inventor Kalashnikov

Russian officials and Orthodox priests on Tuesday unveiled a statue in Moscow of inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov, whose iconic AK-47 assault rifle has claimed countless lives worldwide.

Culture minister Vladimir Medinsky praised the inventor and called the rifle — which has been reproduced an estimated 100 million times worldwide — a “cultural brand for Russia.” Kalashnikov had “the best traits of a Russian: an extraordinary natural gift, simplicity, integrity,” Medinsky said.

Born in a Siberian village in 1919, Mikhail Kalashnikov died in December 2013 in Izhevsk, the capital of the Russian republic of Udmurtia, where he lived.

Six months before his death he wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, expressing regret for his role in making the world’s most commonly used rifle. “My spiritual pain is unbearable,” he wrote in the letter which was later published in the Izvestia newspaper.

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