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

Moscow, Dec 24 (): Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the world’s most popular assault rifle, the AK-47, a simple and durable weapon of war used by tens of millions in about 100 countries has passed away. He was 94.

A spokesman for the Udmurtia province’s president, Viktor Chulkov said on state television, Kalashnikov died in a hospital in his home city of Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurtia republic located near the Ural Mountains, where his gun is still made.

However, the spokesman did not give a cause of death. Kalashnikov had been hospitalised for the past month with unspecified health problems.

AK-47 is the first in a series of machine guns and rifles and is the most abundant firearms ever made. The AK-47′s light weight and easy maintenance led to its becoming the armament of choice for at least 50 armies worldwide, as well as guerilla groups, terrorist groups, drug gangs and pirates.

Kalashnikov was born in a peasant family in Siberia. He began his working life as a railroad clerk. In 1938, he joined the Red Army and started to show his mechanical talent by inventing several modifications for Soviet tanks.

Kalashnikov was in his 20s when he created the AK-47. Earlier, he desired to design farm equipment, but his most famous invention, AK-47 assault rifle, sowed destruction instead of crops; he often said he felt personally untroubled by his contribution to bloodshed.

He said in 2007, he slept well and it was the politicians who were to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence.

President Vladimir Putin praised him, saying, “The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people.”

Over his career, he was honoured with the Hero of Socialist Labour and Order of Lenin and Stalin Prize. But, he did not get rich off royalties as his invention was never patented.