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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kalashnikov expressed guilt over assault rifle invention in letter to Church

  

The designer of the Kalashnikov assault rifle was apparently so racked with guilt that he sought solace from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to express remorse for those killed by his invention.

In a lengthy letter to Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s chief cleric, written just six months before his death in December Mikhail Kalashnikov described struggling with the “unbearable spiritual torment” of knowing the carnage the AK-47 rifle wreaked upon the world.
“My spiritual torment is unbearable. One and the same question: if my rifle killed people does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, 93 years of age, the son of a peasant, Christian and orthodox by faith, am responsible for people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?” He wrote.
Mr Kalashnikov, who died on December 23 at the age of 94, began designing weapons after being wounded in battle during the Second World War.
He later blamed the Nazis for prompting him to invent the AK-47, the assault rifle that sired a family of weapons that has been called Russia’s most successful global brand.

Born and bred in the Soviet Union, and later a national hero of the fiercely secular Communist state, Mr Kalashnikov was for most of his life an atheist.
But in his letter to Kirill, which was reproduced by the Russian daily Izvestia on Monday morning, the aging designer explained how he turned to God as he grew older.
Mr Kalashnikov wrote that he his conversion began with the sense of “excitement” he felt when he first entered a church at the age of 91, later being baptised into the Orthodox faith.

    

A spokesman for the Church said Patriarch Kirril had welcomed the letter and even written a reply.
“This letter was very welcome at a time of attacks on the Church. The Patriarch thanked the legendary designer for his attention and position and answered that Mikhail Timofeevich was himself an example of patriotism and appropriate attitude to the country,” Patriarch Kirill’s spokesman Alexander Volkov told the paper.
And he added that from the Church’s point of view Mr Kalashnikov had little to repent for, at least as far as his invention is concerned.

“The Church has a very definite position: when weapons serve to protect the Fatherland, the Church supports both its creators and the soldiers who use it,” Volkov said.

“He invented that weapon for the defence of the country, not for the use of Saudi Arabian terrorists,” he added.

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