Kalashnikov 'racked with guilt' over rifle invention
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 letter to Patriarch Kirill, Russia's chief cleric, written just six months before his death last month, 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," he wrote. "I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle killed people does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, am responsible for people's deaths, even if they were enemies?"
Kalashnikov, who died on December 23 at the age of 94, began designing weapons after being wounded in battle during World War II at the Izmash factory in the city of Izhevsk.
He later blamed the Nazis for prompting him to invent the rifle that sired a family of weapons that has been called Russia's most successful global brand. While he was known to have expressed regret at how it had been used, Kalashnikov always publicly defended his invention, saying in successive interviews he had designed it to be used only in defence of the country.
In his letter to Kirill -- reproduced by newspaper 'Izvestia' yesterday -- he explained how he turned to God as he grew older.
He said 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. (© Daily Telegraph, London)