Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the famous AK-47 assault rifle, has accused the Communist Party of illegally using his image in an electoral campaign banner for the party’s State Duma candidate with the same surname, Leonid Kalashnikov.
Prosecutors in the Central Russian Samara Region said they had received a letter from 92-year-old inventor Kalashnikov, in which he stated that he never gave the Communist Party permission to use his image in the electoral campaign.
“The plaintiff said his image was unlawfully used in a banner… in the city of Togliatti, calling on people to vote for the Communist Party’s State Duma candidate, Leonid Kalashnikov,” the regional prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“The plaintiff said he did not give permission to use his image in the campaign and no one ever asked his permission,” the statement reads.
The banner in question features an image of the two Kalashnikovs together and a separate image of Mikhail Kalashnikov with his world-famous invention. The slogan reads: “Kalashnikov is the choice of millions. Vote for Kalashnikov!”
The AK-47 is the most widely used and well-known assault rifle in the world. It is used by some 50 armies around the world, as well as countless urban guerrilla movements. It is also featured on the flag of Mozambique.
Sergei Arsenyev, a spokesman for the Samara Communist Party branch said they were not informed about Mikhail Kalashnikov’s claims.
“As far as I know, Leonid Kalashnikov of the Communist party flew to Izhevsk [in the Urals] to meet with Mikhail Kalashnikov,” he said. “It’s the first time I hear that Kalashnikov, the rifle’s inventor, accuses Leonid of unlawfully using his image.”
The Communist Party’s deputy chairman Vladimir Kashin said the scandal was orchestrated by opponents of his party, which faced several accusations of campaign violations in the past weeks.
A senior lawmaker and party member of the ruling United Russia party, Sergei Neverov, said on Tuesday the Communists “fraudulently used the name of the great inventor” and that the signature on his permission was forged.
The Communist Party’s deputy chairman said Kalashnikov’s permission was submitted to regional and federal electoral authorities and the “authenticity of his signature on the document bearing all necessary seals causes no doubt.”
Mikhail Kalashnikov was not immediately available for a comment.