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Wednesday, December 24, 1997 Published at 16:02 GMT



World: West Asia

Gorby gets teeth into fast food ad
image: [ Gorbachev smiles as Pizza Hut diners praise the policies of his presidency ]
Gorbachev smiles as Pizza Hut diners praise the policies of his presidency

The former Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has grabbed a slice of advertising action.

Gorbachev, who introduced Russia to the market economy, is following a long line of sporting stars, such as tennis ace Pete Sampras and England footballer Gareth Southgate, in endorsing Pizza Hut.

Although the slick commercial was filmed in Moscow, the advert will not appear on TVs in Russia because he is an unpopular figure there.

The advert, to be screened in America from January 1, is understood to have earned $160,000 for Gorbachev, which he will pass on to his charity foundation.


[ image: A stunned customer spots Gorbachev at a nearby table]
A stunned customer spots Gorbachev at a nearby table
It shows Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, entering a Moscow Pizza Hut with his granddaughter, Anastasia. When customers see him they argue whether his glasnost policies brought, freedom and hope or political instability and chaos.

Eventually they decide his policies led to Pizza Hut opening in Moscow and the customers join in a chorus of "Hail Gorbachev."

Gorbachev, who does not say a word, responds to the adulation by raising a slice of pizza in salute.

Ordinary Russians are undecided on the advert, which has only been screened on news programmes. One said: "He's the President, not some man in the street. I think it's wrong."

But another said: "He has the right to advertise whatever he wants to. It's his own choice."

Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, is understood to have been against him taking part in the commercial and the former premier himself admits he is not the best advert for pizza - he doesn't even like the product.






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