We’re now in Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, land of the Tartars. As descendants of Genghis Khan the folk here are proud of being part of the Golden Horde that ruled these lands until Ivan the Terrible, Russia’s first Tzar sacked their city and burnt their places of worship. A rather ignominious end for the first Khan who’d adopted Islam.

The victimisation of Tartars had a further horrific chapter under Stalin when 2 million of them died in the so-called famine-genocide of his regime, to be replaced by ethnic Russians who were settled here instead.

Fast forward and today all is well, indeed the Russians have gone out of their way to accommodate the peaceful coexistence of Christianity and Islam here (the population numbers now are equally Russian and Tartar) – no better demonstrated than the presence of two sumptuous houses of worship side-by-side within the walls of Kazan’s Kremlin, built by Ivan the Terrible but today also housing the residence of the President of the Republic of Tatarsan

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