MOSCOW - A villager in provincial Russia has caused a national scandal after finding 79 Kalashnikov assault rifles in crates that he bought to use as firewood, Russian media reported on Jan. 13.
A truck driver was supposed to take the crates for disposal from the factory in the central city of Izhevsk where Kalashnikovs are manufactured, but he thought they were empty and sold them to the unnamed villager.
The man who had hoped to use the wood as fuel for his stove called the police, and an investigation was launched amid concerns about security at the nationally renowned Izhmash arms factory, local police said.
"Probably there are weapons in other boxes as well. We must check how weapons were stored and utilized and whether anything else is missing," a police spokesman said according to news agency ITAR-TASS.
The case caused Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to express exasperation on his Twitter feed.
"A pensioner has found dozens of Kalashnikov rifles. Oh my!" Rogozin wrote.
He said that he would travel to Izhevsk later this month to hold talks at the Izhmash weapons plant.
The Kalashnikov AK47 and its more modern versions are the weapons of choice for dozens of armies and guerrilla groups around the world.
More than 100 million Kalashnikovs have been sold worldwide and they are widely used by fighters in conflict zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The designer of the AK47, Mikhail Kalashnikov, was given the prestigious 'Hero of Russia' award in 2009, and there is a museum in Izhevsk entirely devoted to his life and work.