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THE WEEK AHEAD

MOSCOW : A Birthday Party of Sorts

February 26, 1991

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev marks his 60th birthday Saturday in an atmosphere of accelerating domestic crisis and gloomy uncertainty about the Soviet future.

According to most Soviet opinion polls, Gorbachev's popularity is probably at its lowest point since he took power almost six years ago.

When he took over, he did away with such rites as elaborate birthday tributes to glorify the Kremlin leadership. But given the current swing to the right in Soviet politics, Kremlinologists will be watching closely to see whether there's any change this year.

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