Soviet Union 48 Hours of Chaos

Visiting Tadzhikistan, a TIME correspondent witnesses Gorbachev's worst fear: an Islam-tinged revolution

How much more ethnic violence can the Soviet Union endure? A month after anti-Armenian pogroms in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku and a brutal clampdown by the Soviet army, Kremlin control seemed to hang by a thread last week in yet another Soviet republic. This time rioting and looting, followed by direct intervention by the Soviet army, took place in Dushanbe, capital of Tadzhikistan, a little-known republic (pop. 5.1 million) tucked into a mountainous fold of Central Asia between Afghanistan and China.

The Tadzhiks, who share cultural and ethnic origins with the Iranians, are staging what has the potential to become...

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