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Soviets Will Try to Curb Birthrate in Muslim Area

January 21, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Soviet authorities said today they will try to curb the birthrate in the mostly Muslim republic of Tadzhikistan despite a longstanding nationwide campaign for bigger families.

A report by Tass press agency said the Central Asian republic's birthrate is the country's highest, with six or more children per family the norm, creating "a demographic situation which is growing complicated."

Unequal birthrates in the Soviet Union's 15 republics are a sensitive topic and have been cited by some Western analysts as a potential source of future instability.

Ethnic groups in Central Asia and the republic of Georgia have a higher birthrate than ethnic Russians or Slavs. Russians hold the leading positions in the Communist Party, the government and the military, but the tenacity with which the non-Russians cling to their language and other traditions has created problems.

The simmering resentment of Russian domination was highlighted in Kazakhstan, another Central Asian republic, in December with riots in the capital of Alma Ata. The two days of disturbances broke out after the republic's longtime party leader, a Kazakh, was replaced by a Russian brought in from the outside.

The Central Statistical Board, in year-end figures released Saturday, said the national birthrate increased 0.5% last year, from 19.4 newborns per 1,000 people to 19.9 per 1,000. It did not give any breakdown showing where the population growth was the greatest. The total population is now 281.7 million.

In the European part of the Soviet Union, many couples have just one child because of housing problems or career choices. The average Soviet woman has six abortions, according to a 1981 world population study by the United Nations. Contraceptive devices and birth control pills are shortage items.

Incentives have long been offered for larger families, and women bearing 10 children or more are named a "Hero Mother."

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