KAZAN, Russia -- A Koran billed as the world's largest has been unveiled in Kazan, the capital of Russia's republic of Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, who was scheduled to attend the November 17 ceremony at Kazan's Qol Sharif Mosque, did not show up.
Minnikhanov's predecessor, longtime Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev, who was in attendance, explained Minnikhanov's absence by saying he was in Moscow on official business.
Tatarstan Prime Minister Ildar Khalikov; Russia's chief mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin; the chairman of Russia's Council of Muftis, Ravil Gainutdin; and local Islamic scholars and leaders also attended the ceremony.
The book was commissioned by Resurrection, a Tatarstan state fund headed by Shaimiyev and engaged in the preservation and revival of the Tatars' cultural heritage. It weighs 800 kilograms and is 1.5 meters by 2 meters in size.
The text was printed in Italy, and the binding, encrusted with malachite and precious gems, was prepared by a Slovenian-owned company based in Gorizia at a cost of about 1 million euros ($1.3 million), Slovenian media reported
earlier this week.
The Koran will be placed on the first floor of the Qol Sharif Mosque until June 2012, when it will be moved to the town of Bolgar, the ancient capital of the Volga Bulgars, the ancestors of the present-day Tatars who converted to Islam in 922.
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