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Ad Showing Yeltsin Toting Liquor Store Bags Comes Under Fire

April 16, 1996

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ A newspaper ad showing Russian President Boris Yeltsin toting bulging bags from the Netherlands’ largest liquor store chain has elicited numerous complaints from those who think it’s no joke.

``The basis for the ad was to be funny,″ a spokesman for the Gall and Gall liquor chain Erik Visser, said sheepishly Tuesday.

The full-page ad promoting assorted vodkas at reduced prices shows a grinning Yeltsin standing in Moscow’s Red Square holding Gall and Gall bags. The caption reads: ``New by Gall and Gall: 11 special vodkas for the real connoisseur.″

Although there have been numerous reports that Yeltsin has a drinking problem, Visser said the ad was not meant to be a personal attack.

``Vodka is originally a Russian drink and we wanted a person who can represent the Russian people. What better than Yeltsin, their president?″ Visser said.

But some people apparently didn’t see the humor.

The Amsterdam-based Advertising Code Foundation said it has received numerous complaints since the ad appeared in national and regional dailies last week.

No comment was immediately available from the Russian Embassy in the Hague.

Advertising Code Foundation director Prisca Ancion said a meeting has been scheduled with Gall and Gall to discuss the ad. The foundation can advise against using ads it deems offensive, but has no punitive powers.

Gall and Gall has 435 stores nationwide.

The Yeltsin image was authentic, but the four shopping bags were superimposed, Visser said.

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