Designer of Kalashnikov rifle dies aged 94

Monday 23 December 2013 23.18
Russian arms designer General Mikhail Kalashnikov pictured in 1997
Russian arms designer General Mikhail Kalashnikov pictured in 1997

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the assault rifle that has killed more people than any other firearm in the world, has died aged 94.

Russia state news agency Itar-Tass said he died at his home city of Izhevsk, near the Ural Mountains, where his gun is still made.

The former Russian army general was his in 20s when he created the AK-47 just after World War II.

He was fitted with a electric heartbeat stimulator at a Moscow hospital in June and had been in hospital in Izhevsk since 17 November, state media reported.
              
The AK-47, which rarely jams even in adverse conditions, went into service in the Soviet armed forces in 1949.

Today, Kalashnikov rifles are still a mainstay of Russia's armed forces and police.
              
The gun and its imitations have been used in conflicts around the world for decades.

At a lavish Kremlin ceremony on Kalashnikov's 90th birthday, then-President Dmitry Medvedev bestowed on him the highest state honour - the Hero of Russia gold star medal - and lauded him for creating "the national brand every Russian is proud of".
              
Kalashnikov, a son of Siberian peasants who never finished school, said pride in his iconic invention was mixed with the pain of seeing it used by criminals and child soldiers.