A 30-feet statue has been unveiled of Mikhail Kalashnikov, creator of the AK-47 rifle, in Moscow, Russia.
The statue shows Kalashnikov holding the weapon, which is named after him. He had created the weapon in 1947, after Soviet soldiers had complained about their weapons.
High-ranking Russian officials including Vladimir Medinsky, the culture minister, and Petr Biryukov, Moscow’s deputy mayor were present at the unveiling of the statue.
“This is Russia’s cultural brand,” said Medinsky, before a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the statue.
“He created this weapon to defend his motherland,” said Father Konstantin, shrugging off suggestions that it was inappropriate to sprinkle holy water on a statue of a weapons designer. Some members of the crowd crossed themselves as the priest blessed the monument.
Today, there are reported to be more than 100m Kalashnikov rifles in use worldwide. The weapon, which is favoured by both armies and militants, is said to be responsible for 250,000 deaths annually.
Not everybody was happy to celebrate Kalashnikov though. A protester was detained by police as he attempted to unfurl a banner that read “a creator of weapons is a creator of death”.
Six months before his death at age 94, he wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, expressing regret for his role in making the world’s most commonly used rifle.
The inventor wrote the tortured letter to the head of the church. Kalashnikov insisted his “spiritual pain is unbearable.” “I keep having the same unsolved question: If my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I…a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?”