Travellers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport can now buy a model Kalashnikov assault rifle before they catch their flight.
A Kalashnikov boutique has opened at Sheremetyevo to promote the world-famous Russian gunmaker’s brand. The shop’s souvenirs include camouflage gear and “I love AK” T-shirts.
The AK-47 assault rifle has a worldwide reputation for reliability. The Soviet bloc countries, and many guerrillas, relied on the gun for decades.
An airport official quoted by Reuters news agency said the model guns were clearly imitations and would not pose security problems.
Sheremetyevo is Russia’s biggest international airport, and handled more than 31 million passengers last year. There is widespread international concern about replica weapons which can be mistaken for the real thing and potentially used by terrorists.
A Russian state corporation, Rostec, owns 51% of the shares in the Kalashnikov concern, which makes the guns at Izhevsk, in central Russia. In 2014 the EU and US added Kalashnikov to their lists of Russian arms manufacturers subject to sanctions because of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
The airport shop is part of the firm’s drive to expand its civilian merchandise. “Kalashnikov is one of the most popular brands that come to mind when people think of Russia,” said the firm’s marketing director Vladimir Dmitriyev, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency. “So we are pleased to provide everyone with an opportunity to take home a souvenir with our brand on it.”