Kalashnikov brand: achievements and problems


The 60th anniversary of the creation of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle AK-47 was actively celebrated in Russia in early July. In the last 30-40 years, this model of small arms and its modifications have been used actively in all wars and is considered unsurpassed in the world.

According to General Director of Rosoboronexport, Sergei Chemezov, “In the last five years, the average annual supplies of Russian small arms, close-range weapons and ammunition has grown by 60% to approximately $200 million.” This is very significant. Revenues from sales of the famous automatic rifles evidently account for a significant part of this figure.

Chemezov says, “The Kalashnikov automatic rifle has become a national weapon symbol of more than 50 countries. This is a unique case in the history of humankind” and adds that approximately 100 million pieces of various modifications of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle have been produced in the world. This means that the quantity of produced weapons almost equals the quantity of the able-bodied population of Russia. This would be quite sufficient to celebrate the jubilee of Kalashnikov.

Meanwhile, Valery Varlamov, director of the security department of Rosoboronexport, presumes that only one-tenth of Kalashnikov automatic rifles exported by international producers are produced legally. According to Varlamov, the lost benefit from Russia from pirate production of Kalashnikovs is estimated at “$2 billion annually.” Thus, Russia receives only one-tenth from the sale of small arms including AK automatic rifles. Varlamov said that in the past (during the USSR era), licenses for the production of AK-47 and its modifications were transferred to 18 countries. These licenses expired at the end of the 1980s or beginning of the 1990s. That is why now, the majority of foreign countries and private companies (there are about 35 of them) produce the automatic rifle without permits, infringing on rights of Russian intellectual property abroad.

Varlamov says, “In the last few years, 11 countries started production of AK-47 and its modifications without the due legal rights earning multimillion profits.” According to him, the production of automatic weapons on the basis of AK-47 was started even in the US (in Nevada) allegedly under license of Bulgarian plant Arsenal. “Along with this, both the Bulgarian and the American party know very well that they do not have any right for this production.”

This looks especially cynical against the background of protection of rights for results of intellectual activity and combating of intellectual piracy promoted by the state power bodies of the US.

Varlamov emphasizes, “Mass production and supplies of counterfeited automatic rifles of Bulgarian and Polish manufacture to the national armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq organized under control of the US is also a double-standard policy in the protection of intellectual property.”

Hence, according to him, Rosoboronexport initiated a number of measures that allowed for the achievement of invalidation of results of the tender held in 2004 for supplies of small arms to Iraq (first of all, automatic rifles created on the basis of AK-47) by Polish company Bumar. Varlamov adds that the number of countries that would like to produce Kalashnikov automatic rifles legally has been growing lately. As an example, he mentioned the contract on the production of AK-103 automatic rifles and ammunition for them in Venezuela under license.