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Tatarstan's President Makes 'Minor' Hajj To Mecca

Tatar President Rustam Minnikhanov prays during his "minor hajj" in Mecca.
Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov has arrived in Saudi Arabia and visited Mecca, where he performed the "umrah," or "minor hajj," an Islamic pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year.

Minnikhanov was invited to Saudi Arabia by the chief of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

Minnikhanov's trip comes as a plenum of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in Tatarstan has named April 17 as the date of the election for a new mufti.

There are three candidates for the religious post, including the current acting mufti, 28-year-old Kamil Samigullin.

The previous mufti, Ildus Faizov, resigned at the start of March for health reasons.

He was wounded in a bombing in July 2012.

His aide, Valilulla Yakupov, was shot dead in a separate attack the same day.

Based on reporting by and Interfax