Facebook posts claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin has converted Moscow’s Cathedral Church into a Mosque are false
The video being circulated is from the September 2015 inauguration ceremony of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque
Claim: Russian President Vladimir Putin has converted Moscow’s Cathedral Church into a Masjid (Mosque) and handed over the keys to the Grand Mufti of Russia during the inauguration ceremony of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque.
Fact: The posts circulating on Facebook regarding the conversion of a “Cathedral Church into Masjid” by the Russian government are false. The Moscow Cathedral Mosque was established by the Muslim Board of Russia in September 2015.
On 7 January 2022, Facebook page Pakistan Republic shared a false post with the caption, “In a video shared by Times of Islamabad: the Russian President Vladimir Putin is converting the Moscow’s Cathedral Church into Masjid and later handed over to the Grand Mufti of Russia in the inauguration ceremony of Moscow Cathedral Mosque.”
The post with the same caption was also shared here, here, here, here, and here between 7 to 10 January 2022. It was also reshared in public groups and by other individual users. All of the posts on Facebook referred to the video posted by the Times of Islamabad on 6 January 2022. That video has received 7,800 views and was shared 172 times on Facebook between 6 and 10 January 2022. The same video was also posted here and here on Twitter.
Soch Fact Check found the news to be false and misleading as the Moscow Cathedral Mosque was established in September 2015 by the Russian Government. According to an RT News report from 2015, the Mosque was first established in 1904. Plans to completely reconstruct the mosque broke ground in 2011 and the Mosque was officially reopened to the public in 2015. The misleading video circulating on Facebook and Twitter is from the original video by Euronews of the inauguration ceremony which was held on 23 September 2015. The Mosque was neither built as a Church, nor did any conversion of a Church into a Mosque or vice versa take place.
Pakistan Republic cited Daily Sabah (a Turkish newspaper) as its source in a post about the alleged conversion but no such reporting could be found on the Daily Sabah website. In 2015, Daily Sabah posted a news story regarding the opening of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, but the story made no reference to a Church. The claim by Pakistan Republic and all other pages that Moscow’s Cathedral Church was converted into Mosque is false
Virality and Post Origins
It is not the first time such a post has surfaced on social media. To investigate the origins of the false video, Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis and found that the same video clip with the same false caption was first posted by a Facebook page Life is Joker on 9 November 2017. The misleading video was posted 229 times and received 60,709 interactions from 23 September 2015 to 10 January 2022. The same post by Facebook page Talha Zamir Minhas has thus far received 704,800 views, the most of any such post.
Conclusion: Russian President Vladimir Putin did not convert Moscow’s Cathedral Church into a Mosque. Posts claiming as such are false. The video being circulated is of the inauguration of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque in 2015, which was built from scratch and was not a conversion of any kind.