© BBC NewsThe Kalashnikov is one of the world's most recognizable guns
A man who had bought crates off the back of a lorry in Russia for firewood found they contained 79 Kalashnikov rifles and parts, Russian media report.

The villager in Udmurtia reported the rifles to a local policeman, after which investigators examined the 64 crates.

It was established that the army-issue rifles had been delivered for scrap to the nearby Izhmash arms plant.

The driver had sold off the crates, thinking they were all empty.

However, seven of them were found to contain rifles, as well as 253 magazines and other parts, a police source told Interfax news agency.

'Unacceptable negligence'

Once delivered to Izhmash in the city of Izhevsk, the crates had been used for removing rubbish.

The driver, 39, had been working for a private firm, transporting the rubbish to a dump.

"Along the road, he decided to make a bit of extra money and sold [the crates], thinking they were empty," Interfax reports.

However, an investigation has begun into whether the rifles were "thrown out accidentally or there was an organised channel for selling them off illegally", Udmurtia prosecutors' assistant Olesya Fedchishina told Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"The crates in which the weapons were found were removed from a high-security installation so even the rifles could not have got there accidentally," she added.

"Negligence at such installations is unacceptable."

The Kalashnikov, instantly recognisable, renowned for its ruggedness and regarded by some as a design classic, is said to be the world's most heavily produced rifle.

It has been manufactured at Izhmash itself, which is currently working on a new model.