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Russia marked the 90th birthday of the legendary automatic rifle designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, presenting him with the country’s highest award.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev bestowed him with the Hero of Russia medal in the Kremlin. Medvedev, says his contribution gives Russians a feeling of pride.

He designed the Kalashnikov, also known as the AK-47 toward the end of World War II. The rifle was adopted by the Soviet army in 1947, and became the mainstay of the country’s troops during the Cold War.

It also gained popularity among gangsters and guerrillas. Kalashnikov, says he would have liked to invent something more peaceful.

He insists it was made only for national defence. The inventor made no money from the weapon and lives on a meagre pension in the town of Izhe-vsk, where his rifle is manufactured.

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