MYTISHCHI (Moscow Region), December 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s most famous gun designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, was buried Friday at a new military cemetery outside Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and a host of other high-ranking officials came to pay their respects at the funeral, held with full state honors at the Federal Military Memorial Complex in the town of Mytishchi.
Putin laid red roses on the coffin and offered condolences to Kalashnikov’s family members.
The military paid a fitting last tribute to Kalashnikov with salvoes fired from the AK-47, the iconic assault rifle that he designed and which brought him lasting fame.
Yelena Kalashnikova, daughter of the famed weapons designer, said at the funeral that her father had dedicated his whole life to the service of the Motherland and “never thought of anything else.”
Kalashnikov, who died Monday at the age of 94, was initially to be buried in his hometown of Izhevsk, the capital of Russia’s Udmurtia republic.
However, the Russian authorities decided that a man who made such a significant contribution to the country’s defense and holds the title of Hero of Russia among other honors, should be buried in a more prominent place.
Over 60,000 people paid their last respects to Kalashnikov in two days of mourning in Izhevsk before his coffin was flown on Thursday to Moscow.
The Kalashnikov Group, the newly formed small-arms holding that still manufactures derivatives of the AK-47, has said it plans to turn Kalashnikov’s office into a small museum and to establish an award bearing his name to honor its best branches and employees.
Izhevsk already has a dedicated Kalashnikov museum, opened in 2004, that includes a range where visitors can fire air gun copies of AK series weapons on a range.
An estimated 100 million AK-47s have been built worldwide since it went into mass production in February 1947. The reliable and easy-to-use assault rifle is still favored by an assortment of armed forces, guerrilla groups, terrorists and even common thugs in at least 55 countries.
Derivatives of the AK-47, which has a vodka and even a rap song named in its honor, are produced in about 30 countries, including Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden and South Africa.