Soviet Moslem leader praises Gorbachev reforms

CAIRO, Egypt -- A Soviet Moslem spiritual leader praised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, which he said had helped improve conditions for Moslems, during a conference in Saudi Arabia Thursday, news reports said.

'Seventy million Moslems in the Soviet Union are now experiencing a great improvement in their conditions following 60 years of stagnation under communism,' Islamic leader Sheikh Talaat Tajuldin was quoted as saying by Egypt's Middle East News Agency.


Tajuldin did not comment however on continuing disturbances in Soviet Moslem Azerbaijan. Soviet troops stormed Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, Jan. 20 after more than 60 people, mostly Christian Armenians, were killed by Moslem Azerbaijani nationalists.

Tajuldin said Soviet Moslems now enjoyed a greater religious freedom than ever before.

'Last year, 50,000 copies of the Koran (Moslem holy book) were printed in the Soviet Union with funds from Islamic countries ... also a number of religious institutes have been officially inaugurated,' Tajuldin said.

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