Russia cracks down on fake Kalashnikovs

State says only half of 100 million AK-47 rifles are Russian-made models

Russia has been a major market for counterfeit music, movies and computer programs from around the world, but at least one Russian product has been pirated worldwide: the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle.

But Anatoly Isaikin, the chief of the nation's state arms-trading monopoly, aims to change that. He says Russia will step up action to defend the copyright of the Kalashnikov, which is made without licence by dozens of manufacturers around the world.

The Kalashnikov has become the world's most widely distributed weapon, with some 100 million made in the 60 years since the AK-47 went into serial production, but only about half of them are the genuine, locally made article.

The counterfeit production of Kalashnikovs outside Russia has incurred financial losses, tarnished the brand because of their poor quality and dented the country's prestige abroad, Mr Isaikin said on Thursday.

"Their quality bears no comparison to a Kalashnikov produced in Russia," he told reporters at a shooting range in the town of Klimovsk, 15 miles south of Moscow. He said his company, Rosoboronexport, was working to draft agreements with foreign countries that would protect copyright for Kalashnikovs and other Russian weapons. There are about 30 foreign manufacturers who are currently making Kalashnikovs, he said. "Together with other federal structures, we are taking steps to establish order," said Mr Isaikin.

The Soviet Union paid little attention to copyright laws, handing out arms production licences to its satellites in eastern Europe and elsewhere. The Cold War-era production licences have long-since expired, but production has continued.

It wasn't until 1997 that the Izhmash factory in the Ural Mountains city of Izhevsk, which makes Kalashnikovs, secured a state patent for the weapon and began pressing foreign manufacturers to respect its copyright.

Izhmash director Vladimir Grodetsky said the company has faced an uphill battle, losing an estimated $400m (£245m) a year from counterfeit Kalashnikov makers. He said Venezuela, which has struck a deal to buy 100,000 rifles and produce more under licence, is now the only fully legitimate licence holder.

Other Kalashnikov makers, including eastern European nations and China, have signaled readiness to respect Russian copyright but have said that the deals should be negotiated on a government level, Mr Grodetsky said. The Soviet Union provided China with weapons technology until the two Communist giants turned into bitter rivals in the 1960s. Moscow and Beijing rebuilt their ties in the early 1990s, and China again became a top customer for Russian weapons. But China has reduced purchases of Russian weapons in recent years.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam