Russia to modernize Kalashnikov rifle

Russia to modernize Kalashnikov rifle

Moscow announced plans yesterday to modernize the Kalashnikov, giving a new lease of life to the Soviet-era assault rifle that is the mainstay of the Russian army and weapon of choice for paramilitaries and gangsters around the world.

Part of a $690 billion modernization of Russia’s armed forces that includes the addition of new armaments, submarines and aircraft by 2020, the new-look Kalashnikov will get a detachable sight and light, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told parliament. “We are planning deep modernization of the Kalashnikov assault rifle,” said Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry. “This will be a weapon with detachable equipment, such as an optical sight and a lamp.”

The Russian army said last September it had abandoned new purchases of the AK-74 assault rifle, the updated version of the AK-47 designed in the 1940s by Mikhail Kalashnikov. Rogozin said negotiations with the Defense Ministry on future acquisitions of the modernized weapon were ongoing. The easy-to-use and much copied rifle has been described as the world’s most dangerous weapon based on the number of deaths it has caused in wars and insurgencies.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday he was unafraid for his life and had grown used to plots to kill him, after state television reported a new conspiracy days before Russia’s presidential poll. “You cannot live with constant fear -- let them fear us. I have been living with this since 1999,” Putin said. Russia’s Channel One television on Feb. 27 showed two men with links to militants in Chechnya purportedly confessing to plans to blow up Putin’s car after his expected return to the Kremlin in March 4 polls.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.