Mikhail Kalashnikov was credited by the Soviets as the designer and creator of the AK-47 rifle. The simple to manufacture, easy to use and reliable rifle became one of the most widely used firearms in the world. Kalashnikov was admitted to hospital with internal bleeding in November.
Kalashnikov, born in 1919 in western Siberia, was one of 18 children and grew up a peasant. With little formal education, he used his mechanical skills to improve the weapons and equipment used by the Soviet army. He was inspired to build the AK-47 rifle after a soldier asked him why the Soviets were unable to build a gun as reliable as the ones used by Germans.
After building it in 1947, the rifle went in to production for the Soviets two years later and has now has been produced in the tens of millions in factories all over the world. Kalashnikov himself once lamented the unchecked distribution of the rifle saying that he had designed it to protect his country and not to be used by terrorists.
“This is a weapon of defense,” he said. “It is not a weapon for offense.”
Kalshnikov tried to distance himself from the extensive use of his rifle to kill people across the world, instead blaming the policies of countries that acquired the rifle.
"It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon," Kalashnikov said in 2008.