Accessibility links

Breaking News

Creator Of AK-47 Assault Rifle Turns 90

Mikhail Kalashnikov attends festivities to mark his 90th birthday at the Kremlin.
MOSCOW -- The creator of the popular AK-47 assault rifle that bears his name, Mikhail Kalashnikov, has marked his 90th birthday, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Kalashnikov's AK-47 rifle became the Soviet Army's standard issue rifle in 1949, two years after the model was created. Since that time Kalashnikov has lived in Izhevsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Udmurtia.

The AK-47 design became popular internationally and was exported widely to all allies of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Kalashnikov was twice given the Hero of Socialist Labor medal during the Soviet era.

In 1998, then-President Boris Yeltsin awarded him with the Order of Saint Andrew.

Despite the worldwide popularity of the AK-47, Kalashnikov has lived a very modest life on his state pension as he received no royalties for his invention, and the failure to copyright its design has led to many other manufacturers around world mass producing it.