In our own obituary of AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov last month, we included this quote: The rifle was invented "for the protection of the Motherland," he said. "I have no regrets and bear no responsibility for how politicians have used it." It turns out "no regrets" might not have exactly been true. The AFP picks up a report from Russia's Izvestia that Kalashnikov penned a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church nine months before his December death in which he wrote of "unbearable ... spiritual pain" and asked about his culpability.
It contains this line: "I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle took away people's lives, then can it be that I ... am guilty for people's deaths, even if they were enemies?" AFP notes that Izvestia ran a copy of the letter, which is typed on Kalashnikov's personal stationery and signed "with a wavering hand." A rep for Patriarch Kirill confirms that the letter was sent, and says the church leader wrote a reply—one that very may well have calmed his fears. Says the rep, "The Church has a very definite position: when weapons serve to protect the Fatherland, the Church supports both its creators and the soldiers who use it." But the BBC notes that it's not clear whether every word came from Kalashnikov: Izvestia reports that his daughter believes a priest helped him write the letter.