AK-47 Manufacturer Faces Bankruptcy

Russia asked the United Nations for help in the fight against the forgeries. However the UN was not all that willing to help -- after all their peacekeeping forces operate in regions like the Congo, one of the main markets for these kinds of weapons.

It is still unclear how much economic danger Izhmash Arms is really in. After the bankruptcy charges, the firm itself declared that its order books were full. Furthermore, it said that the company that was demanding the money, Gremikha, and which had filed the bankruptcy order had "no relationship" with the factory at all. The relatively unknown Gremikha company said it had filed the order because of a "chain of debts." But this has cast doubt on the whole proceeding.

Ultra-Nationalist With Dubious Reputation Behind Bankruptcy

Additionally the proprietor of Gremikha also happens to be a local political figure with a dubious reputation. According to the central Russian election commission, the business belongs to Andrei Markin, the regional head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). The LDPR is led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and is generally considered to be ultranationalist in nature. Markin has been regional head of the LDPR since 2007. At the time that he took up the post, opponents within his own party said that he was active in criminal circles under the name "Markel." The businessman-politician denied this.

However, the LDPR does seem to like to award administrative and other contracts to business people with dodgy reputations and criminal histories. In 2007 Andrei Lugovoy was the LDPR's candidate for the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament. Lugovoy is wanted by the British police and Scotland Yard, in connection with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian secret service-turned-dissident who was living in London when, in 2006, he was lethally poisoned with a radioactive substance, polonium-210.

When contacted by SPIEGEL Online, Markin's office would only say that, in the case against Izhmash Arms, they were being led "by legal guidelines." According to the Svoje Delo newspaper, Markin had said he didn't want the situation to get as far as bankruptcy and that he was just hoping the Kalashnikov manufacturer would be able to settles its debts as soon as possible.

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