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Commemorative Cyrillic Highway Sign, 1990

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Photograph of Commemorative Cyrillic Highway Sign

Sign with Cyrillic Russian lettering designed and manufactured by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) and posted along Interstate 94 in Minneapolis at the Dartmouth Bridge over the Mississippi River on June 3, 1990.

This three-by-six-foot aluminum highway sign reading “Mississippi River” in Russian was prepared by the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s sign shop in Oakdale for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to the Twin Cities on June 3, 1990. Gorbachev’s motorcade passed the sign on that day while driving from St. Paul to Minneapolis on the I-94 Dartmouth Bridge.

On an unseasonably cold June afternoon, Minnesota welcomed the Gorbachevs, Mikhail and his wife, Raisa, to the Twin Cities. The greeting followed Mikhail’s morning meeting with President George H. W. Bush, where the two discussed foreign policy. At a Governor’s Mansion luncheon, Rudy Perpich announced the development of the Gorbachev–Maxwell Institute of Technology, an ultimately ill-fated international research institution tentatively funded by Czech-British newspaper billionaire Robert Maxwell.

The Gorbachevs then took a planned motorcade route through the Summit Hill neighborhood of St. Paul in a limousine shipped in from the USSR, stopping multiple times to shake hands with members of the crowd. Most approved of Mikhail for his glasnost (transparency) policies, but hundreds of people originally from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania protested for Baltic independence.

Gorbachev later met with Fortune 500 executives at the Downtown Minneapolis Radisson to encourage American investment, acknowledging the USSR’s economic shortcomings while warning that companies “that stand on the sidelines will remain observers for years to come.” While Mikhail was taking questions on Russia’s economy, Raisa attended a dinner with a family in South Minneapolis. She also accepted gifts from school groups and made an impromptu stop at a drugstore to ask about working conditions, maternity leave, and differences in quality between similar products.

After a brief visit with Control Data Corporation, a technology firm with longstanding ties to Russia, the Gorbachevs departed for San Francisco. Rudy Perpich was the clear political winner of the visit, reporting confidence that the visit would have a direct impact on international trade with Minnesota.

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“CDC Computer Sale to Soviets to be OK’d.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“Charming, Charmed Raisa Steals the Show.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“From 1:50 to 8:22 We See His Personal Glasnost.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“Get Out of Town Dude, You’re History.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 8, 1994.

“Gorbachev’s Minnesota Agenda.” Washington Post, May 23, 1990.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1990/05/23/gorbachevs-minnesota-agenda/c91d19ea-8b96-4159-b36c-a4b394396ea1/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.64847fa97c1c

“Gorbachev Tells Business Leaders to Seize the Moment.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“Gorbachevs Visit Minnesota, Dazzle American Heartland.” South Florida Sun Sentinel, May 23, 1990.
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1990-06-04/news/9001120014_1_raisa-gorbachev-gorbachevs-visit-minnesota-soviet-president

“Gorbachev Warms a Cold Day.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“Major Research Institution Proposed.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

“Minnesota Journal; Savoring the Afterglow of a World-Class Visit.” New York Times, June 6, 1990.
https://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/06/us/minnesota-journal-savoring-the-afterglow-of-a-world-class-visit.html

“Minnesota Lands Gorbachev: Public Relations Man’s Coup.” New York Times, June 6, 1990.
https://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/17/us/minnesota-lands-gorbachev-public-relations-man-s-coup.html

“Perpich Says That the Visit Was Success for State.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 4, 1990.

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Photograph of Commemorative Cyrillic Highway Sign
Photograph of Commemorative Cyrillic Highway Sign