Mikhail Kalashnikov, who is going to celebrate the 90th anniversary soon, is not just a renowned designer, engineer, etc, etc. Kalashnikov is not just the world-known assault rifle. Kalashnikov is a symbol, or a brand, like they say nowadays. To put it in a nutshell, Kalashnikov is a Soviet brand that survived the Soviet era. Which other brands survived the period of the Soviet power? Soyuz booster rockets ? Ballet ? What is the positive legacy of the USSR?
The criteria for symbolic legacy are plain and simple. Weapons and drugs enjoy the biggest and the most stable demand on the international market, especially on the market of brands.
The USSR, the abbreviation, was the main positive brand of the Western left intelligentsia during the first half of the 20th century. The USSR was regarded as a vanguard nation, which was making its own path to the bright future.
The USSR positioned itself as a special nation which rejected the values of capitalism and bourgeoisie. As soon as the union collapsed, the world could see that the glorious nation of communism was an underdeveloped country that was miserably standing on its hands and knees in front of the whole world. The Soviet legacy obtained a whole different meaning. The fighters against the Soviet regime - Solzhenitsin and Sakharov - became the main brands of the new country – Russia.
What about Yury Gagarin? Since space exploration is a positive phenomenon, then space rockets obviously make a category of positive brands. However, space rockets can be used in the defense industry, which makes them a part of the negative legacy as well.
As a rule, a positive brand is a brand that appears in the field of art, outside any ideology – music or dancing, for example. Technical achievements can be respectful too, even if they were made in the defense industry. The USSR was the first to invent the H-bomb, which made other countries respect the Soviet Union and then Russia. The invention of the Kalashnikov gun produced the same effect, no matter if the invention brought more good or evil to the world.
A human being tends to see everything either as a source of danger or as a source of hope. Russia is currently perceived in the world as a source of danger mostly, which is obviously so not true. However, since it is so, the Soviet symbolic legacy will not be able to rise.