Mikhail Kalashnikov, the monument to whom was unveiled in Moscow on September 19, on the Day of the Armourer, was born in the village of Kurya in the Altai region to a large peasant family. He became a world-famous armourer by creating the unrivalled world-famous system of automatic small arms. For the rest of his life, Kalashnikov could feel the burden of responsibility for his invention.
According to most approximate calculations, there were about 100 million Kalashnikov assault rifles of various modifications in the beginning of the 21st century in 55 countries around the world. This is believed to be one-sixth of all existing small arms in the world.
Many accused the designer of all the deaths that took place in the world because of the invention of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The designer had this to say to those people: "I invented weapons not to kill people, but to protect my Fatherland. People often ask me: "How do you sleep at night knowing that the rifle that you invented has killed so many people?" I have this to say to them: "I sleep well. Let politicians who start wars sleep badly. The designer is not to blame," Kalashnikov said in his interview with Izvestia newspaper in 2007.
However, one could see at times that Mikhail Kalashnikov seemed to feel the burden of responsibility for creating the weapon, which claims to be the most deadly weapon in history. In 2002, in an interview with Bild, Kalashnikov said that if he had had an opportunity to start his life anew, he would rather have created something less destructive: "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that terrorists use it ... I should have better invented a machine that people could use in their everyday life, a lawn mower, for example." "If I had known, I would have become a watchmaker," Kalashnikov said.
In July 2007, during the 60th anniversary of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, the designer told reporters that he wanted to create something different: "If World War II hadn't taken place, I probably would have constructed a machine to ease farmers' hard work. The Germans are to blame for the fact that I became a military designer ... When I watch TV and see weapons of the Kalashnikov family in the hands of terrorists, I always wonder how they obtained those weapons. The designer is not responsible for where his weapon goes. It is up to governments to control production and export," he said.
For Mikhail Kalashnikov, who dedicated his life to the army, there was no other way. His very first inventions were related to military equipment as well.
Shortly before his death, the thoughts about the responsibility for creating the weapon that has killed hundreds of thousands, or even more people, had become unbearable for the designer. The famous gunsmith could not convince himself that the creator of weapons shall not be responsible for consequences.
Nine months before his death, Mikhail Kalashnikov wrote a penitential letter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, asking him if he was responsible for the death of so many people, who were killed from the weapon that he had invented. "My spiritual pain is unbearable. I have one and the same insoluble question: if my assault rifle deprived people of their lives, it would suggest that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, aged 93, the son of a peasant woman, a Christian and Orthodox by faith, is guilty of those deaths" he wrote.
Patriarch Kirill wrote to him in response: "With so much pain in your heart, you write about the fact that the weapon that you once created for noble purposes is not always used to preserve peace today. But it is important to understand that responsibility for this lies not with the inventor, but with those malicious people who use advances of technological progress to the detriment of their neighbours."