Kalashnikov Statue Causes Controversy in Moscow

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There is undoubtedly nothing artistic about the statue to the father of the legendary AK-47: a man with a submachine-gun and the ubiquitous St. George piercing the dragon (or the less ubiquitous Archangel Michael defeating the devil, according to a different school of thought) are parts of the new memorial to Mikhail Kalashnikov in downtown Moscow.

Yet the statue causes a lot of controversy in Moscow, if not in the whole of Russia, not because it lacks artistic value, but because it obviously stresses the bellicose nature of today’s Russian leadership – read president Vladimir Putin – and apparently spoils the look of the neighborhood. Well, the neighborhood has already been spoiled, according to its residents, by the huge edifice which seems to have come from some dystopian movie about a country ruled by a totalitarian regime with a knack for architectural monsters.

And as if the idea was to add insult to injury, the sculptor mistakenly added an image of a Nazi automatic rifle to the dragon/devil part of the memorial, reanimating the conspiracy theory that Kalashnikov had stolen the design of the famed weapon from his German colleagues of the Third Reich.

The sculptor, Salavat Shcherbakov, admitted the error, saying he used Internet images but did not check them out with experts. So the blueprint of the German StG 44 was erased from the surface. In the process, the workers who did the cutting were briefly detained by police on suspicion of vandalism – adding a funny twist to the entire story.