Russia has many a renowned global export – but none has affirmed its presence quite so forcefully across the globe as the Kalashnikov, assault rifle par excellence. The Independent ran a brief story on the weekend about Anatoly Isaikin, the head of Russia’s arms trading monopoly Rosoboronexport, and his fears that knock-off Kalashnikovs are besmirching the reputation of the weapon across the globe. Their use in ‘conflict zones’ is apparently deleterious to the rifle’s image (naturally, a conflict zone is the last place you’d imagine finding a gun). Today on Reuters we see the weapon’s 90-year-old inventor nostalgic for an era when the gun was of a purer breed and destined for an apparently more noble use.
‘I created this weapon primarily to safeguard our fatherland’ says Kalashnikov, despairing that his invention hasbecome the weaponof choice of unlicensed manufacturers, drug traffickers and war lords. Whilst concern for the gun’s involvement in globalized crime may be given a nod,perhaps the main issue is the $400-$500 million lost each year due togunpiracy. Vladimir Grodetsky, the head of Izhmash, the Russian factory which is licensed to produce theweapon, offers this solution to the moral and financial quandary:
“We first need to create a civilized Kalashnikov market. Only then can we boost the price.”
Read the Reuters article here.