Last updated at 13:52 GMT, Monday, 13 January 2014

Kalashnikov inventor's regret

Summary

12 January 2014

It's been revealed in Russia that the inventor of the world's most famous assault rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last month, wrote to the head of the Russian Orthodox Christian churches a year and a half ago expressing regret that his gun had claimed so many lives.

Reporter:

Steve Rosenberg

A Kalashnikov assault rifle

What did the late inventor of the Kalashnikov ask religious leaders?

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In his letter to the Russian Patriarch, Mikhail Kalashnikov wrote that "one question was causing pain to his soul": if the rifle he had created had claimed lives, then did that mean that he, "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".

The letter has been published by the newspaper Izvestia. It quotes a spokesman for the Patriarch as saying that when weapons serve to defend the fatherland, the Russian Orthodox Church supports those who created them, as well as the soldiers who use them.

It's thought that more than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide. Mikhail Kalashnikov had been awarded the title Hero of Russia - he died last month aged 94 - and was buried with full state honours.

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Vocabulary

Patriarch

religious leader in one of the orthodox Christian churches

believer

person who believes in a god or particular religion

devilish desires

evil thoughts

envy

wishing you had something that someone else has, or wishing you could do something that someone else does

greed

strong wish to have more of something you have

aggression

a feeling of anger that makes you want to threaten or hurt someone

the fatherland

the country where you were born or that you feel you belong to

full state honours

an important ceremony involving political leaders to mark the death of someone important

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