This deal, no doubt, is just a trailer. The booty of about Rs 62 crores
is a small amount compared to the price tag put on the police modernisation
programme that stands at Rs 20,000 crores. The sum is to be utilised over
a period of 10 years, and is primarily meant for the state police forces.
It is worrying if one starts to wonder about the possibility of the rest
of the treasure chest falling into the hands of gunrunners and drug peddlers.
The dubious but
rapid growth of the controversial firm
Kintex is Bulgaria’s
oldest and most important arms exporting firm, involved in small
arms and light weapons. Founded
in 1966 by the secret police, the state-owned Kintex has often been
accused of several illegal weapons transactions and is officially
responsible for managing arms sales abroad.
Jane’s Infantry Weapons (1999-2000) ranks Bulgaria as being
a medium producer of small arms and light weapons, including its
famous versions of the Kalashnikov assault rifle. It lists Kintex
as the manufacturer of “a large range of Kalashnikov’s
assault rifles,” and lists 16, including the AKT-47 and AK-47.
Kintex also has its own range of artillery-launched jammers, such
as the Lilia series; other products include the 20 to 100 MHz Starshel
122 barrage jammer for 122 mm guns.
However, Kintex has a dubious history of arms trade. Bulgaria, A
Country Study, a study done by William R Lehman Jr, shows that during
the early 1960s, Kintex was involved in supplying arms to socialist-oriented
forces in Algeria, Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, apart from
leftist terrorist groups in Italy, Turkey and the Middle East. Lehman
also alleged that Kintex had been willing to accept narcotics from
Turkish terrorists and other groups as payment for arms. The Bulgarian
government denied the charges. Nonetheless, US intelligence sources
have also suspected Kintex of being a front for the Bulgarian State
Security to assist in narcotics trafficking and flow of illicit
arms and ammunition throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Further, during the Iran-Iraq war, Kintex sold arms to both countries.
As per a Human Rights Watch report, Kintex also supplied arms to
warring groups in Rwanda despite an international arms embargo.
In 1993, Forbes magazine wrote that Kintex had, in 1992, concluded
$100 million in arms deals with Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia.
With the political change in Bulgaria in 1990, Kintex was removed
from the category of state secrets; it revealed that it maintained
contacts with fifty countries, dealing mostly in small arms, ammunitions
and tanks. However, Kintex managed to circumvent arms trade controls
instituted from 1991 to 1992 and brokered deals with countries in
violation of UN imposed arms embargoes.
In 1998, the Bulgarian government started a process of privatisation
of state-owned arms manufacturers, Kintex being one of them. But
in 1999, Kintex sold arms worth $40 million to India and Algeria.
It was listed as a firm to be privatised in 2001. AK
Izhmash is training its
guns at MHA after losing out
Based in Izhevsk, the
capital of the Udmurt Republic in the Russian Federation, Open Joint
Stock Company (OJSC) Izhmash bears the honour, or dishonour, of
being the largest manufacturer of firearms in Russia today. It brings
out an array of arms that range from four series of knives to artillery-guided
weapon complexes and aircraft automatic guns. OJSC Izhmash also
has subsidiary firms that produce cars and motorbikes.
However, their rifles are still their mainstay. Izhmash produces
a range of hunting and military rifles that have become ‘bestsellers’
around the globe. In the hunting category, the Saiga self-loading
hunting carbine has become a hot favourite even with Americans.
Still, what the company is best remembered for is the Kalashnikov
series of rifles. Izhmash’s Chief Designer Lt Gen Mikhail
Timofeevitch Kalashnikov produced the first and best-known Kalashnikov,
AK-47, in the year 1947. Later the technology was passed on to other
communist nations by USSR for monetary and political gains. But
now, Izhmash is increasingly trying to secure patents on their products
in several countries.
After the initial runs, AK-47 was further developed to produce AKM
and AKMS, where the letter M stood for ‘modernised’
series. But now, even these have been put up for sale. The most
popular and advanced versions include AK 101, AK 102, AK 103, AK
104 and AK 105. AK-47 is still being widely used in conflict regions,
including Kashmir, despite being produced 56 years ago.
Today, of course, AK assault rifles have become the weapon of choice
for many national armies (for instance, Czech Republic, Slovak,
Poland, Romania, Cuba) and terrorist organisations across the world.
Interestingly, they even produce a non-lethal, dummy version of
an assault rifle for domestic application, which can be bought without
a license. It is mainly used as a collector’s item and training
Izhmash’s history stretches back to the nineteenth century.
The company celebrated its 195th birthday in 2002 in Izhevsk city.
Founded by the order of Russian Tsar Alexander I in 1807, Izhmash
played a major part for the Russian military in World War II. About
11.3 million rifles and carbines were manufactured for the seven-year
period of the war.
The company singularly outscored all the German firearm plants put
together, which produced about 10.3 million rifles and carbines.
At the same time, they also kept rolling out anti-tank weapons,
aircraft automatic guns, pistols and revolvers. It is said they
were arming one infantry and one airborne division each day. AK
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