Kalashnikov statue unveiled in Moscow

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


The Associated Press reports:

The new statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov cradling his signature AK-47 assault rifle unveiled Tuesday in Moscow commemorates one of Russia's most renowned and reviled inventions. By some estimates, the AK-47 and its versions account for about one-fifth of the world's firearms ….

The AK-47's distinctive profile with a banana clip makes it one of the world's most recognizable firearms. It appears on the flag of Mozambique, the flag of Hezbollah and its barrel is shown on Zimbabwe's coat of arms.

UPI has more, including about some of the debate about the statue:

The statue "in one of the busiest and commonly used streets in the city, reaffirms the image of Russia as a militaristic and neo-imperialistic country that feels it is surrounded by enemies," said Dmitry Shabelnikov, a lawyer and resident of the area, reported the Guardian.

"This is not artistic, to put it mildly. This is trash. It's loathsome," said local resident Natalya Seina, according to U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe.

But the AK-47 has been the standard issue rifle for members of the Russian military and some say honoring the inventor is akin to honoring the military.

"[Kalashnikov] created this weapon to defend his motherland," said Russian Orthodox minister Father Konstantin, who sprinkled holy water on the statue.

And Salavat Shcherbakov, the artist who created the statue, said it "represents the victory of good over the forces of evil."

Thanks to Matt Egloff for the pointer.

UPDATE: Ooops! TASS reports:

The Russian Military-Historical Society told TASS on Friday it has decided to remove a sketch of German StG44 rifle from a plate on the pedestal of the newly unveiled monument to the creator of legendary AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle….

"The dismantling will take place. We see that this is a completely different rifle. So, it differs from Kalashnikov rifle. If we leave this rifle here, a lot needs to be explained to the people who pass by the monument. To avoid further misunderstanding and distortion, the dismantling will be carried out," Nadezhda Usmanova, who heads information policy department at the Russian Military-Historical Society, said.

The sculptor insisted that the possible error on the monument still needs to be proved. "I don't have any saboteur in my team who might have chosen a wrong sketch on purpose, and I didn't do that either. There may have been a mistake, but we still need to find out if it is or it is not."

The sculptor also noted that the sketch was just a small part of the sculpture; the BBC reports that the item has been "removed by an angle grinder." Thanks to Thomas Bolioli and Michael Zigismund for the pointer.