Kalash of Titans

Somehow, Lunghu has become an uncompensated, unacknowledged strategic brand advisor to the Russian Federation.  Emphasis is on the uncompensated aspect of this dubious honor, which turns out to be a good thing, because who wants the hassle of having to register with the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign principal?

How did this happen? The slippery slope began with a gentle gradient, when Lunghu made some offhand, less-than-flattering comments about Mosfilm’s back-catalog that drove ’em straight into the arms of Google’s YouTube.   Then, a bit later, he pointed out that (despite Rosneft, Gazprom, Rusal and the rest) Russia really only has two 21st century global brands:  Comrade Bear and the AK-47 Kalashnikov.

Someone has been listening:

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called on Saturday for a merger of two of Russia’s leading small-arms makers, Izhmash and Izhmekh, under the Kalashnikov brand.
“We need to set up a new-old brand, named ‘Kalashnikov.’  Izhmekh and Izhmash, with all due respect, are not a brand.  Kalashnikov –that’s a brand,” Rogozin said.

Backstory

This didn’t exactly come out of the blue.   Rogozin has had prior run-ins with Izhmash management, and he probably hasn’t seen many recent improvements to their past performance:  Izmash’s foray into production of paintball guns hasn’t been too profitable.  Even worse, there’s been a recent optics issue:

Long-serving employees at Russian weapons manufacturer Izhmash, including the legendary Mikhail Kalashnikov, sent a letter to the Kremlin [in October] complaining about falling production and low wages.  Employees claim that bad management has led to the loss of several export contracts, [which] prompted wage cuts, forcing skilled personnel to leave in droves.
“Irreversible changes may take place at the enterprise, leading to the disappearance of brands such as Kalashnikov, Dragunov and Nikonov,” the letter said.

 

Given this context, it’s not surprising that Comrade General Mikhail K. is completely onboard with Dimi Rozgozin’s merger proposal:

Mikhail Kalashnikov, who turned 93 on Saturday, personally authorized the use of his name for the [combined Izhmekh/Izhmash enterprise], Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday.
Izhmash has manufactured Kalashnikovs since the rifle first went into mass production in 1949, while Izhmekh is best known for producing Makarov and Yarygin handguns.

As long as the Russian Federation is accepting free and unsolicited advice, Lunghu suggests that the merger deal includes a generous personal-services contract for Comrade General Mikhail and his family.  A gesture of good will can be worth more than gold.

 

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