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Mikhail Kalashnikov felt 'spiritual pain' for designing the AK-47

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Mikhail Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the iconic and ubiquitous AK-47, outwardly expressed pride in his rifle before his death last month, even though its being used by terrorists saddened him. However, in a letter sent to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, the late engineer felt "spiritual pain" about his invention's capacity to kill, and wondered if he was, in the end, responsible for the deaths it caused.

The letter was sent in May of 2012, and was published today in the Russian-language newspaper Izvestia. The BBC translated a portion of the letter, revealing the inventor's self-doubt:

"My spiritual pain is unbearable."

"I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people's lives, then can it be that I... a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?"

"The longer I live," he continued, "the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression."

According to the BBC, Izvestia received correspondence confirming that the Russian Patriarch replied to Kalashnikov's letter. The press secretary for the Russian Patriarch, Cyril Alexander Volkov, told the paper, "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."