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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Kalashnikov takes on vodka market
General Kalashnikov toasts new vodka
From gun-toting to vodka-tasting - Kalashnikov takes aim at market
Two of Russia's most famous exports have been combined in the launch of Kalashnikov vodka - but one shot of it should not prove lethal.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, 84, inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, proudly presented the new liquor in London.

The general, who designed the rifle after being wounded in World War II, said he wanted to continue the "good name" of his gun.

It has long been the weapon of choice for guerrilla armies around the world.

The new vodka, distilled in St Petersburg, retails for about $24 a bottle. It is already available at several clubs in London.

The general agreed to give his name to it after being approached by a British entrepreneur, John Florey.

Mr Kalashnikov argued that he created the gun for "purely patriotic reasons".

"I created it to protect the borders of my country," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.

The gun is made in the Urals city of Izhevsk.

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