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MOSCOW, November 11, 17:36 /ITAR-TASS/. A total of 16,564 Russian Muslims have made a pilgrimage to Mecca this autumn, Russia’s Haji mission reported on Monday.
“On the whole, the Haji season was peaceful. Fewer pilgrims fell ill or went missing that last year. Two people died during the Haji season. Three Russians underwent free surgery in Saudi hospitals. One pilgrim had serious heart bypass surgery at a hospital in Medina,” a source at the Haji mission went on to say.
None of Russian pilgrims fell ill with a coronary virus or a dengue fever virus.
The organizers said that the 2013 Haji season had been more organized thanks to good interaction of the Russian Haji mission and Saudi organizations which served Russian pilgrims.
However, not all Russian operators lived up to the mark.
Despite written guarantees of the Russian Haji mission that the Saudi side will receive all payments for servicing the Russian pilgrims on time, there were some serious complaints about the work of some Russian tour operators,” the Haji mission’s representatives said.
They promised that next year they would pay more attention to adopting the uniform standards of servicing pilgrims to make it possible to select operators on a competitive basis.
An emergency headquarters of the Russian Haji mission was open in Mecca round-the-clock. It had a first aid station where 82 doctors provided medical assistance for Russian pilgrims.
The pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia lasted from October 12 to 18 this year. The cheapest trip cost 95,000 roubles.
Most Russian pilgrims came from the North Caucasus (6,400 from Dagestan; about 3,000 from Chechnya; 1,500 from Ingushetia). The Volga region was second and Moscow was third.