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Siberia salutes world famous gun maker Mikhail Kalashnikov

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21 November 2013


'I am often asked, how do you sleep knowing how many people were killed from your machine gun?' Picture: Nashi Novosti TV, Barnaul

The inventor of the AK-47, the world's most popular firearm, was unable to attend due to poor health. But Mr Kalashnikov donated numerous personal items to the museum located in the wooden school house of the village where he was raised in Altai region in southern Siberia.

Among the items - his honorary professor's robe from Harvard University and a letter from the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who travelled to Russia in 2009 to personally congratulate Kalashnikov on his 90th birthday. An official at the plant the bears his name, newly formed state arms maker Kalashnikov Concern, said that the inventor sent his best regards to all residents of the Altai Territory and thanks them for still remembering him.

His relatives did attend the opening ceremony of a museum which can become a tourist attraction in the region. 

'I was so much looking forward for the museum to be complete,' said his grandson, Mikahil. 'I remember this building since my childhood. It used to be a school. Everything is done to a very high standard. I think he is very pleased to receive such a present for his 94th birthday, and its great that people here remember about him.'

Mikhail Kalashnikov museum

Mikhail Kalashnikov museum 

Mikhail Kalashnikov museum

Kalashnikov museum opened in the village of Kurya, Altai region. Pictures: Nashi Novosti TV, Barnaul

There are three complete sections of the exhibition, named 'An Altai lad', 'A machine-gun man' and 'A Living Legend'. Kalashnikov, born in Kurya, was one of 19 children of Timofey Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov (1883-1930) and Aleksandra Frolovna Kalashnikova (Kaverina) (1884-1957).

In tsarist times the family heard about the prospect of a better life in Siberia and moved from their native Cossack village in the Northern Caucasus, a distance of some 4,000 km. By all accounts the peasant farming family were initially fairly prosperous with the eight surviving children helping run their small farm. 'Misha Kalashnikov, one of the youngsters, wasn't an exception either - in pre-school years he looked after cattle and poultry, and then he grew older he helped in the field,' says an account of this period. 

In a 2007 interview with Altaiskaya Pravda, he said:

'I had six brothers and two sisters. A big family is good because it means you don't need nannies, children have to sort themselves out. I learned to read and write before school by looking at my big brother's books. My brightest childhood memory is of my brother presenting me with wooden skates. It was like a fairytale! 

'Even though I nearly sank in them when the ice cracked and I got into the water - I still remember them as the happiest thing happened in childhood. I was lucky then because there were other kids around, they started to shout, and because I was dressed in my big brother's coat, you know how the younger ones usually finish up with the elder ones clothes. That coat acted like a kind of a float for several moments, that was enough for a man from our village to hear cries and drag me out. 

'I am still very scared of water after that, I never go deeper than three meters, whether it is a river or a sea.' 

Mikhail Kalashnikov museum

'People say I would have been a billionaire if I was to live elsewhere in the West'. Picture: Altaiskaya Pravda newspaper

In Soviet times, however, the family were split, with some deported to Tomsk region, also in Siberia, punished for being a wealthy peasant. His father died, and his mother remarried to support her family. From Tomsk region, the young Mikhail hitchhiked back almost 1000 km to Kurya, working at a tractor station and developing a passion for weaponry. 

His conscription into the Red Army came in 1938.  He rose to become a tank commander. Wounded during the Battle of Bryansk in October 1941, he heard soldiers complaining about Soviet weaponry and began his designs of various types of guns. From 1942 onwards Kalashnikov was assigned to the Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of the Red Army.

His design of the AK-47 - for which his name is known around the world - came in 1947. 

'I am often asked, 'how do you sleep knowing how many people were killed from your machine gun? I always say back 'I sleep very well, thank you. It should be politicians that start wars that suffer from sleeping problems. My machine gun was made for defence. If it wasn't for war, I would have been doing machines to help agriculture - so it was Germans who forced me to invent it. 

'I don't keep a machine gun at home. As for the dummies I brought them all back to the motherland, to show at the museum. It was me testing the first machine gun personally. We didn't have targets then, so I had to shoot boxes with sand. I'm not shooting now, my hands and eyesight are not as good as they were. 

'I don't like to talk too much, I am about keeping my word. And decency is what I appreciate in people most of all. 

'My anti-ageing secret is simple - work. I get up at 6 am every day, spend an hour getting myself organised, and then I am ready to work. 

'What am I proud most of all? My motherland. Wherever I am I always want to get back to Russia. 

'People say I would have been a billionaire if I was to live elsewhere in the West. I don't like luxury. I am after a simple decent life.' 

Mikhail Kalashnikov museum

'My anti-ageing secret is simple - work'. Picture: Nashi Novosti TV, Barnaul

The new Kurya museum shows how the village ooked at the beginning of the 20th century with pictures and a restored peasant's izba (wooden house) almost identical to the one in which the Kalashnikov's family lived. The second shows the beginning of Kalashnikov's search of eternal engine, which he's been dreaming about since the very childhood, and leads to the moment when in 1947 Kalashnikov designed his world famous AK 47 machine gun. 

'A living legend' shows his personal cabinet with the table he used to work, the typewriter, his favourite books and souvenirs, and some of his papers. 

Kalashnikov actively participated in assembling the exhibition, though was unable to fly to Altai. 

His son Viktor said he was still in robust health despite a stay in hospital. 'Everything is normal, everything is all right and under control. Doctors are working and watching him close, everything is all right'.

Comments (2)

Very sorry for the fabricated story recklessly and fallaciously twittered on open Aust media by an Aust Politician ,whose hate for Russia and its people was borne from the archaic,propaganda religious teachings when a student by the most skilful brainwashers in the business--- The Jesuits.

Still it's no excuse for anyone in such a high position in an Australian Parliament to have such myopic fanatical views

A deliberate fabrication of a person's word to insidiously demean him, "a recently deceased renown russian celebrity,". Patrick ps A Most cowardly act by a most cowardly man .
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
03/01/2014 21:00
To the Siberian Times , why have my comments on this article been removed ?
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
03/01/2014 19:25

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