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Former Soviet leader stars in Pizza Hut commercial

December 3, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ From perestroika salesman to pizza huckster, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has come a long way.

``Long live Gorbachev, who brought us Pizza Hut!″ chant customers in a new TV commercial that shows the 66-year-old Gorbachev handing them pizzas.

Gorbachev, known for introducing the reforms that eventually brought down the communist state, shot the commercial last week at one of Pizza Hut’s Moscow outlets.

But Sergei Tatosyan, the manager of the eatery, said the commercial will not be shown in Russia, where Gorbachev is still widely disliked and blamed for the Soviet downfall.

``I guess he’s a very popular person in the West, so they wanted him for the commercial,″ said Tatosyan.

Gorbachev agreed to star in the ad because his Gorbachev Foundation badly needs money to buy the building where his library and archive are housed, foundation spokesman Karen Karagezian said Tuesday. The organization now rents the Moscow building.

The spokesman said he didn’t know how much Gorbachev was being paid, ``But I would think that the amount is significant because it is to be used to buy real estate.″

His 10-year-old granddaughter, Anastasia, also has a part in the commercial, said Karagezian.

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