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Kalashnikov

Some 55 years after his invention of the AK-47 assault rifle (in 1947), Mikhail Kalashnikov remarked that he wished he had invented something else instead: A lawn mower.

"He invented the gun as a means of protecting his country, rather than as a killing machine," British entrepreneur John Florey announced some time later. "Now the Cold War has ended, he is keen to promote Russian culture." How so? By teaming up with Florey and lending his name to a new brand of vodka.

[According to a report quoted in Russia's Kommersant newspaper, Russia has one of the world's highest rates of alcoholism and Russian men (two thirds of whom die drunk) have the lowest life expectancy in Europe (57.4 years).]

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