Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The Russian government unveiled a monument Tuesday to honor the inventor of one of the most highly used deadly weapons in human history: the AK-47 assault rifle.
The 30-foot statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, who created the first design of the AK-47, also known as the Kalashnikov, will stand in one of Moscow's business districts. But such a public display for the man who invented a machine that has killed countless people sparked some controversy in the Russian capital.
The statue "in one of the busiest and commonly used streets in the city, reaffirms the image of Russia as a militaristic and neo-imperialistic country that feels it is surrounded by enemies," said Dmitry Shabelnikov, a lawyer and resident of the area, reported the Guardian.
"This is not artistic, to put it mildly. This is trash. It's loathsome," said local resident Natalya Seina, according to U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe.
But the AK-47 has been the standard issue rifle for members of the Russian military and some say honoring the inventor is akin to honoring the military.
"[Kalashnikov] created this weapon to defend his motherland," said Russian Orthodox minister Father Konstantin, who sprinkled holy water on the statue.
And Salavat Shcherbakov, the artist who created the statue, said it "represents the victory of good over the forces of evil."
Kalashnikov, who died in 2013 at the age of 94, produced the first working version of the rifle in 1947 after hearing Russian soldiers complain about their weapons when he was in a military hospital during World War 2. By 1949, it was the standard issue rifle for the Soviet Army.
Since then, more than 100 million AK-47's are estimated to have been distributed to 106 countries around the world.
Despite the AK-47's role in global conflicts, Kalashnikov said in 2007 that he bears no responsibility.
"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," he said.
But the year before his death, Kalahnikov appears to have had questions about his famed invention.
n his letter to the Russian Patriarch, Kalashnikov wrote that one question was causing pain to his soul.
"I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people's lives, then can it be that I... a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?" he wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in May 2012 "The longer I live, the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression."