The Kalashnikov, the world's most popular firearm, has been a source of mixed emotions in Russia since it was invented 60 years ago, the New York Times reports. Putin calls the killing machine a "symbol of the talent and creative genius of our people." But almost none of the AK-47's worldwide sales benefit Russia.
Buyers, including the US, mostly purchase the knock-offs and imitations that fill the market; the American military has supplied them to virtually every police officer and soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq without buying one from Russia. The gun's inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, now 87, complained: "I take them into my hands and, my goodness, the marks are foreign."