Russian MPs appeal to Turkish counterparts over Hagia Sophia status

Russian MPs appeal to Turkish counterparts over Hagia Sophia status

Russian lawmakers have appealed to their Turkish counterparts to prevent government plans for converting the Hagia Sophia UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul into a mosque, calling on them to “prevent the damage that could be caused by a hasty change in the status of the world-famous museum.”

According to the TASS news agency, lawmakers in the Russian State Duma (or lower house) sent a letter on Tuesday to members of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, appealing against the planned change to the status of Hagia Sophia, which they describe as a “sensitive issue for our citizens.”

The former Orthodox Cathedral is an “outstanding monument of Byzantine architecture, a world masterpiece,” they said, and is also “one of the places of interest in Istanbul visited by Russian tourists most often.”

The lawmakers also expressed their appreciation for “the friendly nature of Russian-Turkish relations,” calling on their Turkish counterparts to “analyze the situation thoroughly” and to encourage decisionmakers to “show wisdom and not review the decision by founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which turned the Hagia Sophia into a symbol of peace and interfaith harmony for many years.”

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