The AK-47 has been called "the Coca-Cola of small arms." It's said to be responsible for 250,000 deaths every year and believed to have killed more people than all other modern weapons combined. On Tuesday, a 30-foot monument dedicated to its designer, Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, was unveiled in Moscow, the New York Times reports. Kalashnikov, whose gun was first produced in 1947, died in 2013 at the age of 93, according to NPR. The bronze statue features his likeness cradling his signature invention—as Russian state TV puts it—"like a violin." The inscription on the pedestal below the statue reads: "I created a weapon for the defense of my fatherland." The statue was unveiled on Weapons Maker Day, an official Russian holiday in its seventh year.
During the ceremony, Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky said this of Kalashnikov: "Extraordinary natural talent, simplicity, honesty, organizational skills." He called the AK-47 "a true cultural brand of Russia." But not everyone was enamored by the statue. One nearby resident tells the Guardian it "reaffirms the image of Russia as a militaristic and neo-imperialistic country that feels it is surrounded by enemies." Another neighbor tells Radio Free Europe the statue is "trash" and "loathsome," adding that poets and playwrights "are probably more worthy." At least one protester was detained while holding a sign reading "a weapons designer is a designer of death." At the unveiling, Kalashnikov's daughter said her father didn't like that his gun was used so widely and felt weapons should "always be under secure lock and key and only in the army."