Duvar English – Reuters

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will not impact Russian-Turkish relations, Russian news outlet Sputnik reported on July 17.

“Our official stance is that this is an internal affair of Turkey,” Peskov said.

However, the spokesman added that they hope Ankara will consider the structure’s symbolic significance for many Christians around the globe.

“We hope that our Turkish counterparts will view Hagia Sophia as the UNESCO World Heritage Site that it is,” Peskov added.

Meanwhile, a group of Russian lawmakers are considering appealing to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for control of Orthodox churches in Turkey, which formerly belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Hagia Sophia was an important place of worship for Orthodox Christians for centuries until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 and was turned into a mosque.

After the creation of the modern secular Turkish Republic under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk it became a museum in 1934.

Many Christians were comfortable with Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum because this effectively created a neutral space which respected both the Christian and Muslim heritage of the ancient building, which dates back to the sixth century.