Ali Khamenei, the theocratic dictator of Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have been invited to Russia to attend the opening of the Moscow Grand Mosque.
The two were invited thanks to the head of Russia’s Muftis council, Rawil Gaynetdin, who extended the invite to Iran’s Minister of Culture while the two met in Moscow on Thursday, according to Iran’s state-run Tasnim News Agency.
“Given that the opening of the mosque will be a great event in the Muslim world, we are eager to host Ayatollah Khamenei, as a great Islamic leader, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. We insist on the invitation,” said Gaynetdin, according to the report, which proclaims that the Islamic place of worship will be the “most spacious” mosque in all of Russia.
The mosque will have its grand opening on September 23 to commemorate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the report stated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in attendance, along with many foreign heads of state. Two weeks before the grand opening, Russia will host a program outside the mosque on September 7 called “A Day for Iran,” according to the report.
Russia has been a strong proponent of the nuclear deal that was recently struck between the P5+1 world powers (US, UK, France, China, Russia, Germany) and Iran. Moscow has continue to advocate for the reduction of international sanctions against Iran so that the two states can trade more freely.
The two countries continue to discuss arms sales worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars. Russia is set to imminently deliver Tehran its sophisticated S-300 air defense missile batteries, which Iran acquired for $800 million dollars.
Should the Iranian leader accept the invitation, this may not be the first time that Khamenei has been to Russia. Some suspect that Khamenei was trained by the KGB during Iran’s pre-Islamic Revolution time period and may have attended the People’s Friendship University in Moscow during the Soviet-era.