Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Hagia Sophia decision would not harm relations between Moscow and Ankara.

An aerial view shows the Hagia Sophia in the distance and the Blue Mosque in front of it in Istanbul, Turkey, April 11, 2020.
An aerial view shows the Hagia Sophia in the distance and the Blue Mosque in front of it in Istanbul, Turkey, April 11, 2020. (Umit Bektas / Reuters)

Hagia Sophia's status change is Turkey’s internal matter and Moscow believes the decision will benefit tourists.

Tourists can now access Hagia Sophia without an admission cost, spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, said on Friday. 

A top Turkish administrative court annulled the 1934 conversion of Hagia Sophia into a museum last week, allowing the monument to be converted back into a mosque. 

“There were rather expensive tickets to Hagia Sophia, but now there will be no tickets, admission will be free. In this regard, our tourists will win,” Peskov told radio station Avtoradio, TASS news agency reported.

Peskov said the Hagia Sophia decision would not harm relations between Moscow and Ankara and understands that the move is an internal affair. 

“In addition, we hope that with any decision, our Turkish partners will take into account the status of Hagia Sophia as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the fact that it is sacred to many Christians,” Peskov added.

Peskov acknowledged Turkey's assurances of preserving everything in the museum in the best possible way with the monument open to everyone.

Russian authorities respect the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on this issue which differs from the state position, the spokesman said.

The Russian Orthodox Church had said it regretted that a Turkish court did not take its concerns into account when ruling

After centuries of service as a church under the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II following his conquest of Istanbul in 1453.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the historical complex will be ready for worship for Friday prayers on July 24.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies