As told by witnesses, dozens of buses with pilgrims to perform Hajj, running along the Georgian Military Highway leading into Georgia from South Ossetia.
In previous years, pilgrims have not chosen this route, because to travel through Georgia needed a Georgian visa. This year, Georgia has introduced a visa regime for residents of the North Caucasian republics.
Most of the buses with pilgrims, traveling at the moment through the Russian-Georgian border - from Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya. Buses from outside the North Caucasus to travel across the border can not, as in other regions remains subject to the visa regime. Eyewitnesses watched as the bus arrived to the border of the Astrakhan region, but across the border he could not and turned back.
bus trip to the Hajj choose about 80% of pilgrims from the South of Russia. It is more than one and a half times cheaper than traveling by plane. Before lifting the visa regime bus trip to Saudi Arabia went through Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Pilgrims complained of difficulties in crossing the border of Azerbaijan.
According to the quota allocated to Russia in 2010, Saudi Arabia can visit the 20,500 Russians. Of this quota, the largest number of seats, 8000, allocated Dagestan, whose president Magomedsalam Magomedov also went to Mecca. Substantial quota are also Chechnya (3000) and Ingushetia (1500).