19:24 GMT16 June 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on Tuesday adopted an address to Turkey’s parliament and called on Ankara to take all necessary steps to avoid possible damage that could be caused by the rushed change of status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.

    "All possible steps must be taken to prevent damage that could be caused by the hasty change in the status of the world-renowned museum," the State Duma said.

    The Russian lawmakers added that they deeply valued Moscow-Ankara friendly relations especially during the time of "growing geopolitical and other differences complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic."

    "We ask our colleagues, members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, to comprehensively analyze the situation, show wisdom, when deciding on the status of the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, and not change the decision made by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who turned Hagia Sophia for many years in a symbol of peace and interfaith harmony," the State Duma also said.

    The address will also be sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government and the Federation Council, the upper house of the parliament.

    Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Hagia Sophia could become a mosque again with free admission. In early July, Turkey's Council of State held a meeting on the matter, and a final decision is expected to be made shortly. Ankara considers the issue to be Turkey's internal affair and opposes any foreign interference in the decision-making process.

    Mosque, Turkey, Hagia Sophia, Russia
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