Russian MP urges Turkey to give “Hagia Sophia” to Orthodox Christians


Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, has put forward a shocking proposal in the aftermath of the downing of an Su-24 Russian bomber in Turkish airspace.

Sergei Gavrilov, an MP from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has urged Turkey to return the Hagia Sophia Cathedral to the Orthodox Christian church.

The Communist MP apparently intended to help thaw currently icy relations with Ankara. “We expect from the Turkish side a friendly step to return the Hagia Sophia Cathedral to the Christian church. This step would help Turkey and Islam to demonstrate that good will is above politics,» he said.

Armenia-based news agency NEWS.am quoted Gavrilov as saying that Russia is ready to financially support restoration of the ecumenical Christian monument. Gavrilov’s party, CPRF, said in a statement that mutual friendly initiatives and proposals are significant because Russian-Turkish relations are experiencing a test of endurance and strength.

His unexpected proposal follows Turkey’s shooting down a Russian warplane which violated its air space despite several warnings. The plane was warned 10 times in five minutes before it was hit by an air-to-air missile, fired by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet over Hatay’s Yayladağı town on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Originally built as a Christian basilica in the 6th sixth century during the Byzantium Empire, Hagia Sophia is currently on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It was a church for 916 years.

Hagia Sophia remained a keystone of Orthodox Christianity until 1453, when Istanbul was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmet II. Sultan Mehmet ordered the Hagia Sophia to be converted into a mosque as a symbol of Ottoman victory, and it served as a mosque for 482 years. It was converted into a museum in 1935.

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