Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, died Monday in the Russian region of Udmurtia. He was 94.
Kalashnikov passed away at the Clinical and Diagnostic Center in Izhevsk, Udmurtia administration spokesman Victor Chulkov said on Facebook.
The creator of the world’s most widely used combat weapon had been in poor health since March and was hospitalized Nov. 17 suffering from a stomach hemorrhage.
Marking the rifle’s 60th anniversary in 2007, Kalashnikov said the credit or blame for the AK-47 should go to the Nazis, as it was his experiences as a Soviet soldier in World War II that inspired him to develop the weapon.
But for the war, Kalashnikov said, he would have become a designer of farm equipment.
Given the nature of the Soviet Union and Moscow’s failure to patent the rifle, Kalashnikov never reaped any financial rewards from the popularity of the AK-47.
More than 100 million of the rifles are in use around the world, many of them in the hands of guerrillas or organized-crime groups.
“I created a weapon to defend the fatherland’s borders. It’s not my fault that it was sometimes used where it shouldn’t have been. This is the fault of politicians,” Kalashnikov said a few years ago during a Kremlin ceremony on the occasion of his 90th birthday.