Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, the Russian military man credited with creating perhaps the world's most ubiquitous firearm, died Monday in the Izhevsk, the capital of the Russian republic of Udmurtia, where he lived. He was 94.
According to an obituary in The New York Times, Kalashnikov headed the design team that created the AK-47, the automatic rifle that has become forever associated with not just the Soviet Union, but also revolution, terrorism and crime around the world. Mass production of the weapon began in 1949 and its design has been revised several times.The gun's abbreviated nickname is shorthand for automatic by Kalashnikov, followed by the year in which the gun was selected for production by the Soviet Union.
Kalashnikov, a national hero in Russia both before and after the fall of the Soviet Union, tried to paint his namesake firearm in a positive light, arguing that it was a weapon of defense, not offense. A fierce Soviet loyalist and nostalgist, Kalashnikov was critical of both Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Boris N. Yeltsin in his memoir.