Ivan Savvidis, a Russian-Georgian billionaire of Pontic Greek origins, who is also a former member of the Russian Parliament, has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a strong position in defending Orthodox Christians against Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.
The owner of PAOK wrote a letter to Putin, as follows:
I appeal to you as a member of the Council on International Relations under the President of the Russian Federation on behalf of the faithful Orthodox Christians from the many thousands of Greek diasporas in Russia.
Our ancestors were forced to flee their homes as a result of persecution by the Ottoman authorities, and found their new homeland in the salvation territories of the Russian Empire.
Today, like the entire Christian world, we are witnessing events unfolding around our holy temple, one of the main symbols of Christianity – the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
The cathedral is the embodiment of the very essence of world culture, which reflects the world historical process, the involvement of the fate of entire peoples and countries. It is a world heritage site whose mission is to be a centre of attraction for people of different religions and beliefs. And this has always been the main strength of Hagia Sophia.
These days, every truly faithful Orthodox Christian are trying to express his or her concern and help resolve the controversial situation. Every day I receive many letters and requests to help me somewhat influence what is happening. The new generation does not stop. On July 4, on the initiative of the Greek youth of Russia and with my personal participation, an online meeting was held with representatives of Christian youth from more than 20 countries, the result of which was the decision to appeal to the relevant international structures – the UN , UNESCO and the heads of state.
The events that took place around the cathedral shook the entire Christian world and threatened to destabilize the already difficult geopolitical situation, causing new outbreaks of conflict.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, knowing you as a deeply religious person, the leader of a country in which Orthodoxy is one of the main religions, I ask you to pay special attention to the current situation.
The world is experiencing an important historical moment, the consequences of which are difficult to predict today. Perhaps the time has come for Russia to once again defend the protection of universal Christian values, thus expressing the expectations of all Orthodox peoples.
We fully know that the decision on the status of Hagia Sophia depends on the political will of the Turkish leadership, but with faith, hope and terror, like the whole Orthodox world, we pray for its fate, we expect a wise and peaceful solution.
We are convinced that without your participation it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.