Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, reportedly wrote a regretful letter several months before his death to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church asking if he was to blame for the deaths of those killed by the guns.

The Russian daily Izvestia reported Monday that Kalashnikov, who died last month at 94, wrote to Patriarch Kirill and told him he keeps asking himself if he's responsible.

Izvestia quoted Kirill's spokesman Alexander Volkov as saying the Patriarch sought to comfort Kalashnikov and praised him as a true patriot.

The letter contrasted with past statements by Kalashnikov, who had repeatedly said he created the weapon to protect his country and couldn't be blamed for other people's action.