MOSCOW -- Weapons designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, whose eponymous assault rifle changed the face of international conflict, died Monday at a clinic in central Russia. He was 94.
The creator of the legendary AK-47, which became widely known as the Kalashnikov, was hospitalized a month ago with stomach bleeding for which he was operated on, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
Until his last day, Kalashnikov was the head of Izhmash, a weapons manufacturing plant in Izhevsk, the capital of the central Russian republic of Udmurtia.
Over six decades, Kalashnikov’s cheap, simple and rugged creation became the weapon of choice for more than 50 standing armies as well as drug lords, street gangs, revolutionaries, terrorists, pirates and thugs the world over.
A diminutive, white-haired man with the honorary rank of general, Kalashnikov was revered throughout Russia and the former Soviet Union. A Kalashnikov museum in Izhevsk, a once-closed industrial city in the Ural Mountains, draws 10,000 visitors a month. Anniversaries of the gun’s 1947 birth are duly noted; at a ceremony for its 60th birthday in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin called it “a symbol of the creative genius of our people.”