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Assault rifle inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov dead at 94

The inventor of the iconic AK-47 assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, died at age 94, according to the office of the presidency in Russia's Udmurtia region, where he had been living.

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Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of a legendary AK-47 assault rifle, talks to the media during a ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of his rifle in Moscow, on July 6, 2007. (DIMA KOROTAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the arms designer credited with creating the iconic yet deadly AK-47 assault rifle, died Monday.

He was 94.

Viktor Chulkov, a spokesman for the president of Russia's Udmurtia republic, where Kalashnikov lived, confirmed the death.

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His weapon, designed shortly after World War II, was one of the world's most familiar and widely used weapons, and became synonymous with killing on a sometimes indiscriminate scale.

But he was seen in the Soviet Union as a national hero and symbol of its proud military past.

The name AK-47 stands for "Kalashnikov's Automatic" and the year it was designed -- 1947. 

More than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide and are now wielded by fighters in such far-flung conflict zones as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

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But the World War II veteran never intended for it to become the weapon of choice outside his own country.

"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," he said during an award ceremony at the Kremlin to mark his 90th birthday.

Kalashnikov also saw little profit from his design, and once said he would have been better off designing a lawn mower.

He had suffered from heart-related problems in recent years, and had been in intensive care in Izhevsk since November 17, according to RT.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/131223/assault-rifle-inventor-mikhail-kalashnikov-dead-at-94