The loyal Kalashnikov

Later in life, he disapproved of anyone who he thought had hastened the Soviet Union’s downfall, or who had been unable to control the political and economic turbulence that followed. In memoirs and interviews, he was harshly critical of Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Boris N. Yeltsin.

To the end he remained loyal to what he called Socialist ideals and the leaders who gave them shape, and seemed untroubled by the hardships endured by his family during the early years of Soviet rule. His family’s land and home had been seized during collectivization, and when he was a child the family was deported into the Siberian wilderness. His father died during their first Siberian winter, and one of his brothers labored for seven years as a prisoner digging the White Sea canal.

Still, General Kalashnikov spoke of his great respect for Lenin and Stalin alike. “I never knew him personally,” he said of Stalin, “and I regret this.”

There is more here.  I think of him as one of the last tinkerer-inventors from the mechanical tradition, which stretched through the twentieth century but is becoming increasingly obsolete.  Precisely because he was from this tradition, his famed rifle was relatively easy to fix, clean, and maintain, easy to equip with interchangeable spare parts, and thus it was easy to use for killing people in poorer countries with lower levels of the division of labor.  There is a good Wikipedia page on the rifle here.  He will go down in history as a good example of what was wrong with much of the twentieth century


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