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Forgotten ad Gorbachev made for Pizza Hut resurfaces online

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A notable Pizza Hut ad filmed in 1998, which featured Mikhail Gorbachev, has resurfaced following the death of the former leader of the USSR yesterday at the age of 91.

Gorbachev was an incredibly liberal and amiable politician whose policies of “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (reconstruction) helped end the Cold War and implement much-needed democratic and economic reforms in Russia.

But such radical changes unleashed forces beyond his control, and fighting between hardliners to retain centralized power and separatists to dismantle it accelerated the total collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Six years later, in 1997, Gorbachev filmed an ad for the American pizza maker — one of several Western companies that were able to enter Russia in the years following the USSR’s breakup, thanks in large part to the former leader’s policies.

The end result was used in schools and universities around the world to illustrate the dramatic economic shifts after the collapse of the Soviet Union and showed Gorbachev’s willingness to open up Russia to the world, despite its enduring communist ideals.

The ad begins with Gorbachev sitting at a table in a Pizza Hut near Moscow’s Red Square

The clients take note of the former Soviet leader and quickly descend into a political debate

The clients take note of the former Soviet leader and quickly descend into a political debate

A Gorbachev supporter praises him for giving Russians 'freedom and opportunity'

A critic, meanwhile, accuses Gorbachev of causing 'economic confusion' and 'political instability'

Gorbachev’s supporters and opponents argue over whether former leader created instability or opportunity in Russia

The arguing customers are interrupted by an older woman

She declares: 'Because of [Gorbachev] we have many things...like Pizza Hut!'

They are interrupted by an older woman who says, “Because of [Gorbachev] we have many things…like Pizza Hut!’

The customers find common ground and stand to lift slices of pizza like wine glasses, toast the leader sitting in the corner and smile back as they sing his praises

The customers find common ground and stand to lift slices of pizza like wine glasses, toast the leader sitting in the corner and smile back as they sing his praises

Gorbachev addresses a group of 150 businessmen in San Francisco, June 5, 1990

Gorbachev addresses a group of 150 businessmen in San Francisco, June 5, 1990

The ad begins with Gorbachev walking along Moscow’s famous Red Square with granddaughter Anastasia Virganskaya and entering a Pizza Hut, where other customers quickly notice his arrival.

“It’s Gorbachev!” exclaims one critic. ‘We have economic confusion because of him!’

The comment is refuted by another diner who says, “Because of him we have the chance!”

The argument quickly escalates, with Gorbachev’s adversary accusing him of causing “political instability” and “complete chaos,” while his supporter praises him for introducing “freedom” and “hope.”

Just as the couple is about to fall apart, a woman intervenes to declare, “Thanks to him we have many things…like Pizza Hut!”

After a moment of reflection, the opponents, who have just been at each other’s throats, both nod in agreement and burst out laughing.

The critic rises from his table, raises a slice of pizza and toasts, “To Gorbachev!”

He is quickly followed by the rest of the guests, who all begin to toast and celebrate the former leader smiling humbly in the corner as an old-fashioned American voiceover scribbles: “Nothing brings people together like a nice hot pizza from Pizza Hut!”

The funny but highly culturally relevant ad perfectly summed up how much Russians blamed Gorbachev for the collapse of the Soviet Union and an uneasy period of rapid socioeconomic transformation, while others praised him for giving them the freedom to express their views and express their views. possessions – something most Russians had never experienced before.

The last publicly shared photo of the late Mikhail Gorbachev was released by Russian economist Ruslan Grinberg on July 1, 2022, two months before his death.

The last publicly shared photo of the late Mikhail Gorbachev was released by Russian economist Ruslan Grinberg on July 1, 2022, two months before his death.

Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev at the Historic Summit in 1986 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev at the Historic Summit in 1986 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Gorbachev meets Margaret Thatcher at the Checkers estate

Gorbachev meets Margaret Thatcher at the Checkers estate

Gorbachev talking to Vladimir Putin at a reception at the Moscow Kremlin, June 12, 2002

Gorbachev talking to Vladimir Putin at a reception at the Moscow Kremlin, June 12, 2002

In the years since the collapse of the USSR, Gorbachev, who won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan and refusing to order his armies to use force to fight pro-democracy uprisings in Eastern Communist states. -Europe, gradually settled into a second career.

He made several attempts to create a Social Democratic party, opened a think tank, the Gorbachev Foundation, and co-founded the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which remains critical of the Kremlin to this day.

The former Soviet leader agreed to star in the Pizza Hut ad as a way to raise money for his foundation, though his contract is rumored to include a clause to ensure he wouldn’t be filmed eating pizza. eat during the commercial.

Growing weaker in later years, Gorbachev expressed concern at rising tensions between Russia and the United States, warning of a return to the Cold War he had helped end.

“We must continue the course we have set. We must ban war once and for all. The most important thing is to get rid of nuclear weapons,” he said in 2018.

Senior Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov, who remained in contact with Gorbachev in the weeks leading up to his death, said in late July the former leader was “upset” that his reforms had been quashed by tyrannical President Vladimir Putin, who for many years presided over an authoritarian and nationalist regime before invading neighboring Ukraine earlier this year.

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