KLIMOVSK, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - 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', based on the two old factories," said Rogozin, who has special responsibilities for Russia's arms industry, during a visit to the TsNIITOCHMASH arms plant near Moscow.
Oleg Bochkaryev, a member of Russia's military-technical commission, arrived on Friday in Izhevsk, the Urals city where the two enterprises are based, for talks on a possible merger, Rogozin said.
"Izhmekh and Izhmash, with all my respect, are not a brand. Kalashnikov - that's a brand," Rogozin said.
He criticized the two plants for lacking staff, having financial difficulties and over-capacity, and making similar products
"I suggest, but don't insist, a final decision will be made by [parent holding company] Rostekhnologii," he said, referring to a merger.
In October, Izhmash employees, including the legendary Mikhail Kalashnikov, who designed the original Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, sent a letter to the Kremlin complaining about falling production volumes and low wages.
Production fell 50 percent in September, leading to wage cuts and dismissals.
Izhmash produces over 70 types of weaponry, including firearms, aircraft guns, precision artillery rounds, as well as a variety of sporting and hunting weapons.
The Kalashnikov family has long been licensing the production of non-core goods under the legendary name, and the Glazovsky liquor plant has been producing Kalashnikov-brand vodka since 1995.
A German company, MMI, already has the rights to produce watches, umbrellas and other everyday goods under the Kalashnikov brand.