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Kyiv's Largest Mosque Opens After 17-Year Construction

Kyiv Opens Largest Mosque
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The Ar-Rakhma mosque can accommodate up to 1,000 worshipers. Local Muslims have been using part of the mosque for services since 2001. (Video by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)

KYIV -- The biggest mosque in the Ukrainian capital has officially opened 17 years after construction began, RFE/RL's Ukrainian and Tatar-Bashkir services report.

Construction of the Ar-Rakhma Mosque started in 1994. Part of the structure was completed by 2001, when local Muslims began using that part of the mosque. The finished building can accommodate up to 1,000 worshippers.

Ukrainian Mufti Sheikh Akhmed Tamim told journalists on December 1 that the most difficult problems the congregation has faced since 1994 were associated with bureaucratic procedures.

He said some local authorities were reluctant to issue the necessary documents and permissions, which delayed the construction.

Tamim said there are currently some 2 million Muslims in Ukraine, of whom 60,000 live in Kyiv.

The new mosque was constructed in Kyiv's historic Tatarka district, atop Shchekavitsya Hill. A community of Muslims -- mainly ethnic Tatars -- has been living there since the mid-19th century.

Read more in Ukrainian here and in Tatar here