NATION : Gorbachev Billboards to Vanish

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Billboards showing Mikhail S. Gorbachev touting a Minnesota-made vodka will be changed during the Soviet president’s visit to the Twin Cities next month, a liquor wholesaler said today.

“Civically, we feel it’s our part to welcome him respectfully,” said Mitchell Johnson, president of Johnson Brothers Wholesale Liquor Co. of St. Paul.

Johnson Brothers had earlier approved the billboard campaign for Minnesota-made Karkov vodka. The billboards show a likeness of Gorbachev holding a bottle of Karkov under the caption “The Party’s Over,” a reference to the Communist Party’s problems.

The 38 billboards dot the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and were planned to be up until mid-June. Gorbachev is scheduled to visit the Twin Cities for six hours on June 3 after attending summit talks with President Bush in Washington.