Accessibility links

Breaking News

Taking Apart, Putting An AK-47 Back Together As Russia Marks Kalashnikov's Centenary

Students of the General Yermolov Cadet School assemble a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a machine gun during a demonstration lesson marking Mikhail Kalashnikov's 100th anniversary of birth in Stavropol on November 8.

More than 100 Russian schoolchildren over the weekend got up close and personal with perhaps the world's most ubiquitous weapon -- the AK-47 automatic rifle.

On the eve of the centenary of its chief designer and inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, the pupils assembled in a Moscow park on November 9 to learn how to assemble mock-up AK-47 rifles, according to an AFP report.

Some children came dressed in camouflage outfits to take part in other events that included paintball war games ahead of celebrations the next day complete with a biography screening of Kalashnikov and museum display.

The military engineer was born into a peasant family during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution and died in 2013, at the age of 94.

Toward the end of his life, he voiced mixed feelings about his achievements and his legacy.

Several months before his death, Kalashnikov wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in which he said, "The pain in my soul is unbearable."

"I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people's lives that means that responsible for people's deaths," Kalashnikov wrote.

He lived and worked for many years in the capital of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, where Kalashnikov assault rifles are still made.

In September 2018, Moscow authorities unveiled a monument to Kalashnikov on the Garden Ring road in Moscow, a key highway encircling the Russian capital.

There are an estimated 100 million AK-47s in circulation.

Today, Russia manufactures fifth-generation Kalashnikov rifles -- the AK-12 and the AK-15.

Based on reporting by AFP, The Moscow Times, The Straits Times, and RIA Novosti