14 November 2016

Mikhail Kalashnikov – a man of remarkable life whose whole life is an act of moral courage


November 10 is the 97th birthday anniversary of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the outstanding Russian small arms designer, whose fame went far beyond the borders of Russia.

“The age is not an excuse to work”, Kalashnikov used to say. And it seems that we are going to see him again working with drawings at his desk and giving advice to younger fellow designers. His colleagues remember him as a “very kind but demanding man. A simple person with a sense of humor”.

Nikolay Chauzov, the machinist and motor mechanic of the Design and Technological Center of the Kalashnikov Group, who joined the Company in 1971, has immediately become a part of the Kalashnikov team. “He was a very kind-hearted person, but very demanding as it concerns the working process. We had to perform work flawlessly, to deliver high-quality and meet deadlines. He never raised voice, always speaking in soft voice and kind manner. Sometimes, he could be singing his favorite soldier’s song. We had a friendly team and often visited him at his country house where he showed us his trees and flowers. He was easy to get on with, but we were actually aware that we had been working a great man.”

“Mikhail Timofeevich never portrayed himself as a big boss, who he actually was. He had the same attitude to everyone. And, of course, he liked telling jokes. One of his last jokes: “How is your health?” “According to my age”, says Yuri Shirobokov, the Small Arms and Cannon Armament Chief Designer who joined the company in 1979 and worked there until his retirement.

“He had the same attitude towards all the colleagues, regardless of whether you were a young professional or a head of a department. If I had any questions, I could come up to him and discuss all. It was very easy to work with him. Only 5 months after I began my work for Izhmash, I was sent to the Scientific Research Centre to test AK-74 prior to accepting this model. It was an honor for me. During the tests, I was calling him to report about the progress”, says Valeriy Paranin, the Lead Design Engineer in the department of the civilian semi-automatic arms (before retirement, he has been holding a post of the Head of the department), who joined the factory in 1973 after graduating from Izhevsk Mechanical Institute.

Despite his good nature, Kalashnikov has always been exceptionally demanding of himself and the people around him. His first priority was not only to create new technologies, but to transfer the ability to create them into the future. In the later years of his life, Mikhail Timofeevich was pondering about it. “90 years – is it a lot or not enough? It’s hard to say. I think I have lived a long life, but I have done a little. But I have an opportunity to work, and I continue working at the factory educating young professionals”.

Scientific and professional career of Mikhail Kalashnikov it unique.  In 1971, he received the Doctor of Engineering Science degree, but taking into account his research works and inventions, he was a member of 16 Russian and foreign Academies with 35 copyright certificates.

However, the word “career” is inappropriate describing his life. Kalashnikov was a Hero of the Russian Federation, the chevalier of the Order of St.Andrew, two-time Hero of Socialist Labour, winner of Lenin and State prizes, member of the Union writers of Russia, but has never been a careerist and always demonstrated exceptional modesty and simplicity.

Izhmash (Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant) which is now the Kalashnikov Group, has developed tens of models of small arms under the watchful eye of Mikhail Kalashnikov. AK-47, the famous brainchild of the designer, and models developed on its basis, has won immediate fame in the USSR and far beyond its borders. Annually, the Soviet Union produced up to 600 thousand pieces of AK-47 making it the world’s most popular assault rifle.

The Kalashnikov assault rifle is now adopted in more than 100 countries and has become the prototype for tens of models of small arms. The AK has repeatedly been recognized as one of the best inventions of the 20th century and placed on the flags and coat of arms of some countries.

When he was asked about wealth, he always said: “It’s not about the money. The most precious thing for me is when people say “Your rifle saved my life!” Why do I need all those millions? I’m living a good life”. All the valuable gifts he usually handed over to museums. Some of those can be seen in the Izhmash museum which holds open days timed to Kalashnikov’s birthday on November 10.

Kalashnikov has repeatedly noted that if it were not for the war, he would have worked for the agricultural area. He was very proud of his favorite project - his countryside garden.

Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov has become one of the symbols of the XXth century and remains so to this day. This person is a great inventor, a true patriot who has always been deeply concerned about the fate of Russia and future generations. A life of Kalashnikov is adeals of the  dvocating the at of the Russian genius and engineer that  which fer the  life of a Russian genius and engineer who has been advocating the values and ideals of the gunsmith school.

The Kalashnikov Group is honored to bear the name of the famous designer and is raising to new production, scientific, and technological heights. It is the first Russian holding that works in the defence sector providing a closed cycle of development and production of small arms.

The Company’s management focused on introducing innovative technology and launching new products. The range of small arms was enriched by tens of projects. In the previous five years, the investments into research and development activities have increased 10 times. The Kalashnikov Group refunds a new range of advanced models for all lines of small arms.

The Kalashnikov Group is a remarkable example of successful modernization and enterprise development through public-private partnership. By drawing on the unbroken tradition, the Company continues to develop the weapons capability of the country!