12 Jun /13


“No matter what they do in Russia, it turns out looking like a Kalashnikov”
Vladimir Putin

When President Putin commented last week that Russia’s Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games looked like a Kalashnikov rifle, he was referring to one of his country’s most famous brands. Mikhail Kalashnikov was still in his twenties when he designed the first AK-47 rifle. By 1949 it was the standard issue rifle for the Soviet Army, and to date over 100 million have been manufactured.  After spending most of his childhood in impoverished Siberian exile, the gifted designer produced what became one of Russia’s greatest economic assets.

The owners of the Glazovsky Distillery are certainly grateful for the invention. Since 2001 they have enjoyed great success exporting Kalashnikov vodka, bottled in the shape of an AK-47.

Still active in his 90s, Kalashnikov has expressed concerns over his legacy. The man whose weapons were a symbol of the Cold War and a feature of many hotter conflicts poignantly reflected on what might have been:

“I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists. I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.”