Russia to sell state-of-the-art Kalashnikovs to Venezuela
Moscow, Apr 15 (UNI) Russia will sell 1,00,000 AK-103 rifles to the Venezuelan army and security forces, spokesman for the Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms exports agency, Valery Kartavtsev said today.
''Not a single rifle of this model has yet crossed the Russian border,'' Mr Kartavtsev said at a press conference. However, he denied US media reports, which alleged that Russia will sell outdated Kalashnikov assault rifles to Venezuela instead of modern ones.
''We would like to express our surprise and even outrage at an April 10 article published in the Washington Times. The allegations it makes are untrue and absolutely absurd,'' he said.
He added that Venezuelan experts recently visited the Izhmash engineering plant to inspect the first shipment of the Kalashnikovs, under an agreement signed in May 2005.
Izhmash General Director Vladimir Grodetsky said the agreement also stipulated the licensed production of AK-103s in Venezuela.
''Venezuela will become the first country in the western hemisphere to receive a licence to produce them,'' Mr Grodetsky said, mentioing that currently there was no licensed production of Kalashnikov assault rifles in any other country.
He said about 90 per cent of Kalashnikov assault rifles produced in the world were pirated.
''According to our estimates, about one million weapons directly copying or borrowing elements of the Kalashnikov AK assault rifle are produced annually,'' Mr Grodetsky stressed.
UNI XC SC KP1753