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From the July 2001 issue of
World Press Review (VOL.48, No.7)
For Patriotism and Profit
An interview with Mikhail Kalashnikov
Robert Fisk, The
Independent (centrist), London, England.
April 22, 2001.
November 1919one of 18 children, of whom only six survivedMikhail
Kalashnikov was a Soviet T-38 tank commander in 1941, wounded in the
shoulder and back when a German shell smashed part of the tanks
armor into his body. I was in the hospital, and a soldier in
the bed beside me asked: Why do our soldiers have only one rifle
for two or three of our men, when the Germans have automatics?
So I designed one. I was a soldier, and I created a machine gun for
a soldier. It was called an Avtomat Kalashnikova, the automatic weapon
of KalashnikovAKand it carried the date of its first manufacture,
Kalashnikov in 1996. (Photo courtesy guns.ru)
The AK-47 became the symbol of revolutionPalestinian, Angolan,
Vietnamese, Algerian, Afghan, Hezbollah, the battle rifle of the Warsaw
Pact. And, of course, I asked old Mikhail Kalashnikov how he could
justify all this blood, all those corpses torn to bits by his invention.
He had been asked before. You see, maybe all these feelings
come about because one side wants to liberate itself with arms. But
in my opinion, it is the good that prevails. You may live to see the
day when good prevailsit will be after I am dead. But the time
will come when my weapons will be no more used or necessary.
This is incredible. The AK-47 has mythic status. Kalashnikov admits
this. When I met the Mozambique minister of defense, he presented
me with his countrys national banner, which carries the image
of a Kalashnikov submachine gun. And he told me that when all the
liberation soldiers went home to their villages, they named their
sons Kalash. I think this is an honor, not just a military
success. Its a success in life when people are named after me,
after Mikhail Kalashnikov. Even the Lebanese Hezbollah have
included the AK-47 on their Islamic bannerthe rifle forms the
l of Allah.
We embarked along the Russian version of a familiar moral track. My
aim was to create armaments to protect the borders of my motherland.
It is not my fault that the Kalashnikov became very well-known in
the world; that it was used in many troubled places. I think the policies
of these countries are to blame, not the designers. Man is born to
protect his family, his children, his wife. But I want you to know
that apart from armaments, I have written three books in which I try
to educate our youth to show respect for their families, for old people,