Russian media star and socialite Tina Kandelaki just got a pretty unenviable job — marketing the infamous Kalashnikov range of firearms as “protecting peace.”
Kandelaki was a mainstream TV journalist in Russia, often covering politics, and appeared on the cover of Playboy in Russia in 2007. She’s famous enough that Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked if he was going to make her his education minister.
She was also named by the French police as being in oligarch Suleyman Kerimov’s car when it crashed in Nice, France in 2006. Kandelaki denies that she was present during the incident.
Men’s magazine Maxim interviewed Kandelacki about her somewhat odd new rolele:
Kandelaki argues that the seemingly odd combination — one of Russia’s most glamorous women marketing the famously rugged automatic rifle — is totally natural, pointing out that she tried her hand at shooting the moment she got the commission.
“I have a heavy hand,” she says with a grin, sitting beneath a huge glass chandelier in her gleaming white office in central Moscow. At the moment, that hand is adorned with a gold-and-diamond Parmigiani Fleurier watch and a giant amethyst ring that matches the purple spots on her pale yellow leopard-print blouse. “I don’t have such a manicure that I can’t pull the trigger,” she adds. With the help of Kandelaki and her team, the newly renamed enterprise hatched a plan to diversify — creating separate lines for the company’s military arms, hunting rifles, and biathlon guns. In 2014, it launched a re-branding effort built around a catchy new slogan: “Protecting peace.”
Kalashnikov, which is most famous for the ubiquitous AK47 automatic rifle, is mostly associated with pretty much every rebel, terrorist and militia group around the world. It’s a world away from the sort of lifestyle Kandelaki promotes for herself on her popular Instagram account:
The new Kalashnikov AK-12 was approved for use by the Russian military at the end of last year, and the company is trying to move away from its existing image, to market the new, more advanced rifle.
Whether Kandelaki can do much to to change Kalashnikov’s image isn’t clear, but she’s going to try. Here’s another snippet from Maxim:
“Yes, there are these stereotypes,” she admits. “I believe that the Kalashnikov is tied to the image of Russia, and Russia today is seen in very different ways around the world. There are very wide-ranging views, and most often it’s not seen as it really is.”
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