Russian lawmakers call for a return of Hagia Sophia to Orthodoxy!

27 November 2015
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Sergei Gavrilov, an MP from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) urged Turkey to return the Hagia Sophia Cathedral to the Orthodox Christian Church. He said that in this way Ankara would demonstrate that good will is above politics. “We expect the Turkish side to show a goodwill gesture and return Hagia Sophia Cathedral to the Christian Church,” he said.

Armenian-based news agency NEWS.am also quoted Gavrilov as stating that Russia would be willing to financially support restoration of the ecumenical Christian monument.

The unexpected proposal came after the shooting down of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet on the Turkish-Syrian border leading to Turkish-Russian relations spiralling out of control. Now, friendly relations are needed to help the relationship get back on track and Gavrilov believes that the return of the Hagia Sophia would be a step in the right direction.

Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire and is currently on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It remained a keystone of the Orthodox faith until 1453 when Istanbul fell to the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmet II who covered the beautiful mosaic icons with plaster during its conversion into a mosque. Since 1935, the Cathedral has been a museum.

Gavrilov is not the only one to be calling for concessions from Turkey. Speaking on Russia 1TV, Russian Liberal Democratic Head Vladimir Zhirinovsky called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to support Armenians in liberating western territories long controlled by Turkey.

It still remains to be seen whether Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist proposal will gather support, but another initiative by Russian lawmakers is on the road towards being realized. Sergei Mironov, chairman of the upper house of Russian Parliament, said that his party, Fair Russia, has submitted a bill on “holding to account” anyone who denies the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

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