Stoli CEO responds to growing gay boycott of Russian vodka

We’d written yesterday about the growing boycott of Russian vodka, and particularly Russia’s most famous brand, Stolichnaya vodka, in response to Russia’s brutal crackdown on its LGBT community, including Russia’s new focus on arresting foreign visitors who are perceived in any way to be pro-gay. #dumpstoli

It’s an ominous sign less than one year before the Sochi, Russia Olympics of 2014.

Well, it appears our boycott has gotten the attention of Stoli, which is being particularly singled out by angry gay and trans people, and our allies, worldwide.  (And contrary to some erroneous rumors, Stolichnaya is Russian.  More on that in a moment.)

Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev, issued a long letter yesterday talking about how pro-gay Stoli is in the west.  Sadly, as Dan Savage notes, Mendeleev didn’t say anything about what Stoli is doing to be pro-gay or pro-trans in Russia itself.  Though the Russian press, at least its English-language version, seems to be taking Stolis words as a harsh criticism of Putin.

As for the claims by some that Stoli is not a Russian company – good try.  As Dan notes, the company is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia.  And SPI, the parent company of Stolichnaya, is a Russian corporation.  More from a news just two months ago:

One thing that makes Stoli unique among its peers, is that the company doesn’t just own the brand, it owns the wheat fields to produce the vodka. “The Stoli Group is vertically integrated,” he explains. “The grain is 100% Russian and we have thousands of hectares of land 400 kilometres south of Moscow.” Here it is made into raw alcohol in SPI’s brand new US$100m distillery and then refined into Stoli in Latvia where the company owns a historic distillery in Riga that has been making vodka since 1948. “The system means you really know the cost structure and can ensure consistent high quality standards.”

In its trade communications, “The part ‘Russia’ plays is an essential element in our brand education. It’s where the brand was born and where our grain comes from today.”

Thanks for the clarification. But I’ve had just about enough of Russia’s over-the-top homophobia.  It’s on a par with the virulent hatred we see in parts in Africa.

Oh, and here’s an odd thing.  If you go to Stoli’s home page at stoli.com, here’s what you see:

stoli-gay-boycott

Then you click enter, and you end up on an LGBT Stoli page:

stoli-gay

Does everyone end up on an LGBT page, or is Stoli sniffing out who’s gay, and if so, I’m a bit creeped out.  Perhaps they’re sending everyone there (though I doubt it), or perhaps all people surfing in from America.  Either way, it’s a sign that Stoli is taking the boycott seriously.  Let’s see if Putin does.

And in the meantime, go to your local gay bar (or any bar) and ask them to stop serving Stoli or any other Russian vodka in solidarity with the boycott.  Probably the most famous gay bar in Chicago just pulled Russian vodka from its shelves.  They can too.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Nimitzclass

    This is a very biased argument, assuming that
    just because Scheffler’s rich, he must have some sort of government
    influence! There must be something he can do! No doubt there are
    certainly similarities in Russia with America’s or Europe’s corporatism
    but you simply can’t ignore Russia’s deeply
    nationalist streak (if not autocracy). It
    doesn’t take that much research to see how difficult a position
    Scheffler is in. Russia wants his company. So Scheffler is no friend of
    Putin’s nor friend of Russia’s Goverment, he has no influence whatsoever
    in this circumstance, as for his vodka, the Russian based part of
    Scheffler’s company was seized and renationalized,
    Scheffler himself is wanted for “questioning”, he allegdly lives now in
    Switzerland from where he keeps exporting his vodka, the Stoli you drink
    is not made in Russia it’s actually made in
    Latvia. It is actually a different vodka from what is sold within
    Russia. Hence this whole idea of boycotting Stoli bodka would have no
    effect in Russia’s economy at all.

  • John

    Almost all Vodka brands are made from grains, it has been this way for decades.

  • John

    The “Premium Vodka” is the one sold outside Russia and the “Russian Vodka” is the one sold in Russia, it has been this way for decades.

  • Jessica FantasyStockings

    It won’t help. Seriously, Stoli is barely even Russian. I would like to suggest an alternative view on the subject – http://fantasystockings.com/stoli-russian-vodka-boycott-in-lgtb-community/

  • New strategy needed

    I dont think this is a good strategy for producing any change in Russia. This is a crackdown by th e Russian government and your boycott hurts the Russian people and workers. How does this help influence the politicians in Russia specifically how does Vladimir Putin suffer from this. Or are you hoping the aggrieved Russians will take to the streets and protest to their government who will then respond with a special parliamentary session to listen to their complaints…

  • ibsteve2u

    The similarities between the so-called “conservatives” of America and Russia (and/or the PRC) never fail to make me wonder how most of America can simply stop thinking at “If they’re capitalists, they’re OK!”.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yep

  • Indigo

    I understand your point. The Unretired work with an entirely different set of social and economic issues from the Retired. Additionally, the Retired are less likely to be . . . um . . . circumspect in their opinions and in the expression of their opinions. In short, I don’t have a job to loose. :-)

  • Mittageisen

    Marketing your product to the gay community for self profit is not the same thing as supporting it, you slime balls!

  • Richard DiMatteop

    Why stop at vodka? Read the labels of what you buy and boycott everything.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    What I would like to see is someone on the medals platform whip out a rainbow flag.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    With some exceptions, I don’t trust anyone under 60.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Karmanot waves old hand in solidarity. :-)

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Maybe it’s generational N. I hate the word, because I associate it with hate and attack. But, I’ve come round these days. Now, it has a political solidarity nuance that can appeal to me.

  • Thom Allen

    Online petition directed to:
    sponsors of Winter Olympics in Russia
    asking them to pull sponsorship from the Games at Sochi:

    https://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws

    Stand Against Russia’s Brutal Crackdown on Gay Rights: Urge Winter Olympics 2014 Sponsors to Condemn Anti-Gay Laws

    Petition by

    Julianne Howell

    Loveland, OH

    In Russia, it
    is basically illegal to say that you are gay. You cannot kiss your
    partner in public. You can’t have a rainbow flag in public. You can’t
    even acknowledge that you are gay, or else you face possible
    imprisonment and fines.

    Russia is becoming one of the most anti-gay places in the entire
    world. But it’s also going to hold the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where the
    world is supposed to come together in a spirit of community and
    togetherness. But how could LGBT people and their families be welcome,
    when they run the risk of being thrown in jail or fined just for being
    who they are?

    RUSA LGBT, a Russian-speaking American association for members of the
    gay community, says that LGBT athletes and spectators will not be safe
    during the 2014 Olympic games. And given the Russian government’s recent
    actions toward LGBT people — including violent crackdowns on gay
    rights rallies and arresting members of the LGBT community — how could
    anyone feel safe during these Olympic games?

    That’s why I’m asking the major sponsors and partners of the Sochi
    2014 Olympic games — Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Samsung, Procter &
    Gamble, and Visa — to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws, which are some of
    the most repressive laws in recent history, and pull their sponsorship
    from Russia’s Olympic games. Do these companies want to be tied to an
    Olympics where LGBT athletes and spectators are likely to face harsh
    violence, prison, and brutality?

    It’s time for these companies to put their support for LGBT
    people first, and send a message to Russia that their anti-gay laws are
    not only contrary to basic human rights, but fly in the face of the
    spirit of the Olympic Games, which celebrate human dignity and community
    above all else.

    To:

    Coca-Cola

    Panasonic

    VISA

    Samsung

    Procter&Gamble

    Stand for human rights and pull sponsorship from the 2014 Winter
    Olympics! State sponsored homophobia should not be endorsed by your
    company. Tell Putin you do not support imprisoning and endangering the
    freedoms of gay athletes, fans, family, friends, and citizens!

    Sincerely,

    [Your name]

    https://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Exactly. What’s next, the IOC holding games in Nigeria?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Make that blood bath.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    How do you say “ppppzzzzttt’ in Russian?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    That works.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Moose and Squirrel are hiding in bushes listening: Boris du idiot! V cannot ban z gays. I cannot stand to vear z burlap again!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Bingo!!!

  • Sean Allen

    So gays in Russia are hated by other Russians for being gay and hated by other gays for being Russian…that sucks. My point was to make it clear that intolerance should be fought up to the point where we begin to sacrifice our own morals and behave like the people we are against.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    You’re right! That’s exactly what the Russian government is doing to LGBT people.

  • Sean Allen

    That’s cute…stereotype an entire population and then discriminate against them.

  • http://heimaey.us/ jim morrissey

    Said in a Beavis voice? ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1624570576&ref=profile JohnVisser

    Stoli may not be a Russian-owned brand, but it is produced from Russian ingredients including Russian potatoes. Purchasing Stoli supports the Russian economy and Russian oppression.

  • ChicagoEric

    Google Stoli and look at images of their bottles. They used to say in prominent branding “Russian Vodka”. Their website replaces that now with “Premium Vodka”. Distancing themselves? Regardless, Stoli can say how they support the LGBT community, but the proof is what they are doing in Russia to effect change and equality. I doubt their CEO has any talking points to share.

  • Moderator3

    Calm down. You’re not being treated as a troll.

  • http://fighttherightwingnuts.blogspot.com/ mike31c

    Dear Stoli:

    Fuck you, fuck your swill vodka and fuck your bigoted country.

  • artr2

    All I said was I was not going to buy any Russian products and she has to act like a fucking asshole and give me grief.So if I’m the troll I guess I don’t have to support antigay manufacturers or counties.I’m streight so this really isn’t my fight. I believe in human rights that why I was supporting your boycott. but if your going to insult others who want to help, I guess you think you can do it yourselves. Good luck with that.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcrEqIpi6sg Moderator4

    Naja pallida is a regular, longtime commenter on AmericaBlog (unlike you), and is definitely not a troll.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Ooh! 112 years is historic!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    You’re right: It never works in the long run.

    But in the short-term, it usually does.

  • FFP

    I don’t like the Russians either, but I don’t see them as much different from most other Eastern European people, if based on their intolerance levels. Many Eastern Europeans dislike/hate anything different than their white heterosexual Christian nationalistic drinking buddies. On average they are on par with the legendary West Virginian rednecks.

  • FLL

    Your instincts are unerring. Russian pogroms have relied on antisemitism for centuries. The creation of Israel happened during the Soviet regime, during which the Russian government allowed no one to leave the country. The Russian Jews mostly emigrated to Israel and elsewhere during the 1990s in order to escape the widespread antisemitism which still plagued Russia. The absence of Jews is a first in Russian history (since the Middle Ages, anyway). Putin is following a psychologically twisted logic—sick but logical. There are no more Jewish scapegoats to mask the failures of the Russian government, so he’s found a new scapegoat that doesn’t even require an outside ethnic group.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah… what I can’t get out of my brain:

    “Why has Russia decided to assault, arrest, and generally oppress gay people?”

    “Because they ran out of Russian Jews.”

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    None. Just like the vast majority of Americans. Sure makes it easy to declare you’re all for a boycott when you don’t actually have to sacrifice anything.

  • artr2

    Oh,i don’t know – how many do you buy, troll?

  • FLL

    You’re right. The American bigots have long been active in African countries. I just have a sneaking suspicion that bigoted fundies in the U.S. are more likely to look up to Putin as a hero and look to the base of bigots in Russia for inspiration because… well, you know… Putin and his fan base in Russia are white.

    [Behind closed doors] Yahoo! They’re white!

  • FLL

    If there was ever a time when we needed Moose and Squirrel to wear a rainbow pin, it’s now.

  • Tor

    I have not read all the comments here, but Stoli needs to use its economic might in Russia to lean on the Russian government in the Russian language. English language PR will do very little for our brothers and sisters over there.

    It is nice that they sponsor our events here in the Western world, but have they ever sponsored a pride event in Russia?

  • Ninong

    It could also be because Yuri Sheffler is personally pissed at Vladimir Putin and wants to do everything he can to cause problems for him.

    Putin was personally involved in the effort to reclaim Stolichnaya and the 43 other Russian vodka brands that Yuri purchased for $300,000 in 1997. A Moscow court ruled in 2002 that all of those brands belong to the Russian Federation and that verdict was upheld by the Hague Court of Appeal in 2012. None of the current licensing agreements will be renewed.

  • goulo

    There apparently is no Polish language version of the site (as far as I can tell, it’s English-only), but when I answered the date question, the pull-down country option was set to Poland, and still the main page has the pro-LGBT message just like the screenshot in John’s blog post.

    So on the face of it, they do seem to be quite visibly speaking out generally (not just in the US) against the shitty Russian treatment of LGBT people. (I have no idea if it’s sincere or just a marketing ploy and I don’t mean to imply one way or the other.)

  • Ninong

    I wouldn’t drink Coors beer even if it were free, especially after they hired Cheney’s daughter as their gay spokesperson.

    I don’t drink vodka, so I can’t stop buying Russian vodka to protest Vladimir Putin’s repressive government but I promise to not buy Russian cars.

  • Ninong

    A Moscow court ruled in 2002 that Stolichnaya and the other 43 Russian vodka brands Yuri bought for $300,000 in 1997 are the property of the Russian Federation. That verdict was upheld by the Hague Court of Appeal in 2012. None of the current licensing agreements will be renewed when they expire.

    Stolichnaya is not only a Russian vodka, the battle to get it back from SPI was fought by Vladimir Putin personally because he hates Yuri.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    I always thought that was the point of vodka…

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    How many Russian products do you typically buy in, say, a given month? :)

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    There shouldn’t be any demonstration, we should be going directly after the IOC and Olympic sponsors in the same way, without delay. The IOC has had a long and shameful history of ignoring atrocities and human rights violations where they choose to hold the games. They have always had this undeserved attitude that somehow they’re beyond the influence of politics, while wallowing in it as a mud bath.

  • Ninong

    What happens if you visit the Polish language version of the Stolichnaya site from Poland? I doubt you would get a pro-gay message.

  • notafraidofchange

    The Russian vodka boycott is a strong “first step”.. Get the awareness out to the public and THEN, go after the “Big Fish”.. Start boycotting EVERYONE advertising on NBC’s broadcast until the network addresses the issue! Make everything Russian “toxic”… Don’t support boycotting the Games because the athletes can make a HUGE statement by openly and PUBLICLY supporting LGBT rights inside Russia!! I seriously doubt even Putin would risk worldwide backlash by detaining or punishing visiting athletes during the Games. Perhaps including a tired but highly visible and recognizable “rainbow” element as an “optional” addition (patch, flag, armband,etc…) to the USA uniform would be appropriate. Those fighting apartheid in South Africa were told “boycotts will never work” and we saw how effective “hurting” South African businesses were in holding the government to task. Human Rights (Gay Rights ARE Human Rights!) are far too important to be important to be ignored.

  • Ninong

    Okay, I guess I’m part of your “older generation,” but only by a few years. I find the word “queer” very offensive and would never use it and never associate myself with anything that included that word.

  • Ninong

    I agree with your comment about the word “queer,” which I find very offensive in any setting.

  • Ninong

    You’re not the only one who is not comfortable with the word “queer.” I find it very offensive.

  • Ninong

    I think it’s a generational thing. I fully agree with orogeny in that I despise the use of the word “queer” in any setting. I think your statement that “for the most part ‘queer’ has been reclaimed by LGBTQ folks” is true only for what I would describe as “the younger generation.”

    It’s easy for me to say “younger generation” because I was born in the 1930′s. I don’t know of any LGBT person of my generation who would use the word “queer” under any circumstances. I think the same is probably true of African-Americans of my generation when it comes to the N-word. Only the younger generation use the N-word in reference to themselves.

    I think the word “queer” may have been “reclaimed,” as you say, but not “for the most part,” unless you’re talking about it being reclaimed for the most part by gays and lesbians under the age of 40 or so.

  • Ninong

    The Stolichnaya brand is owned by the Rusian Federation, as ruled by a Moscow court in 2002 and upheld by the Hague Court of Appeal in 2012. None of the current licensing agreements will be nenewed when they expire.

    SPI was once part of the Agriculture Department of the USSR, before Yuri made out like a bandit during privatization in the early 1990′s. But I’m sure all of his money is in Switzerland and other safe havens.

  • usagi

    Of course they do, either directly or through their proxies. The Olympic village may be safe, but do you dare to step outside it (and the plane doesn’t land there)?
    I’m sure their will be individuals who take actions. There always are at the Olympics. Good on him for taking the preemptive step and ensuring there are people watching what happens. What about the lower tier skater who’s not out? What about the third guy on the bobsled team who’s hoping for a good day and a bronze?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I tried Stoli once and thought it tasted like kerosene.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    The fundie bigots are also looking to Christian-dominated African nations, where gay people aren’t just being beaten and imprisoned, but murdered outright.

  • jomicur

    Back in the 90s I was a member of this city’s Cable Commission, and I mixed it up with Comcast executives on a regular basis at our public meetings. Their total corporate intransigence, their ongoing dogged refusal to be responsive to public concerns in any way, was a good part of the reason I canceled my cable subscription the minute my term of office was over. (Well, that plus the reason that cable sucks.) So I know exactly what you mean. But if we don’t make as much noise as possible about this, who will? If we don’t make noise there will be nothing they might hear and listen to. (Note that I only said “might.”)

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    It seems that the real danger is from the citizens of Russia. Many seem to not have a problem with blatant violence against LGBT people. The police seem to be uninterested in stopping the violence. The IOC is promising that athletes and spectators will be protected from the bigoted laws, but they can’t protect anyone from those citizens. I know that it is only a small minority of the citizens that are behaving so badly, but they can cause a lot of damage.

  • Ninong

    Stolichnaya is Russian vodka. The brand is owned by the Russian Federation, as ruled by a Russian court in 2002 and upheld in July 2012 by the Hague Court of Appeal: http://www.mondaq.com/x/194904/Trademark/Russia+Regains+Rights+To+Stolichnaya+And+Moskovskaya+Vodka+Brands

  • FLL

    Do you really think Putin’s government has the guts to physically abuse (or even kill) foreign athletes competing in the Olympics? That is not a rhetorical question. I really don’t know the answer to that question. However, it doesn’t matter whether anyone asks foreign athletes to do this. You may not have heard, but openly gay New Zealand speed skater, Blake Skjellerup, plans to wear a rainbow pin to the Olympic Games (link is here). And I’m sure there will be more athletes who won’t wait to be asked. I think it is far too late to wonder whether this is advisable or not. The die has been cast.

  • usagi

    I’ve seen this line of discussion as well, and that seems to ask an awful lot of the athletes, including risking a career ending personal injury at the hands of the Russian police during those two weeks. That’s one thing if you’re a top tier athlete who’s expected to medal and some small part of “the world” might notice if something happened to you, but what about the poor schmuck who’s going to the Olympics to compete and only has a realistic chance to medal if the rest of the competitors all have a bad day at the same time? No, I’m not comfortable asking or expecting any individual to risk making that sacrifice.

    Your description of “the very worst” is seriously lacking. They’re not going to recover from two weeks in a Russian jail cell in a 30 second montage with a swelling pop ballad crossover soundtrack. The very worst is that they’d end up dead, and any outcry because of it doesn’t make for the fact they’re dead. The next to very worst is that they’re injured badly enough that they never compete again, which is BTW a far more common outcome for serious injuries in sport than the inspiration comeback story we all love hearing when the Olympics roll around.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Coors: the urinal of light beers

  • Ninong

    Riga isn’t part of Russia today but it has twice as many Russians as Latvians living there and it was part of Russia for two centuries prior to WWI, and before that it was part of Sweden. Then it was part of the Soviet Union from 1940 until the 1990′s.

  • usagi

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion along this line. This isn’t the end point. It’s not even really the starting point. It’s a proof of concept. It’s demonstrating to the International Olympic Committee that if something doesn’t happen and this pivots to their sponsors (or there is an actual serious movement for the US to boycott the games) that they are going to feel it in their pocketbook (which is the only thing that they care about BTW).

  • Indigo

    To be fair, I felt the same way about it. “Queer” is a word we queers use but only when appropriate. It’s not a suitable word for a vodka ad. In that context it implies a condescending hip awareness by which I mean it suggests insincerity. At best, I’d F-book it with the comment “See why we should boycott them? They’re condescending and insincere.”

  • Indigo

    So the octogenarians tell me. :-)

  • Ninong

    NBC is 100% owned by Comcast, so lots of luck!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    They can take the medals and pull out a rainbow on the stand.

  • FLL

    I really thought that when Pope Ratzinger slithered off into the sunset, the world would get one little break from religious hate. I was wrong. There is a new epicenter of religious hate with a new leader. Is it the Vatican? No. The new papal piece-of-shit at least has the presence of mind to keep his mouth shut a great deal more than Ratzinger ever did. The Southern Baptists? Not quite. They issued their statement opposing marriage equality in late June, just before the Supreme Court ruled, as if they thought they might have some slight influence on the outcome of the Supreme Court cases (LOL). Since then, the Southern Baptists have been as quite as a church mouse. The Mormons? No. They seem thoroughly flustered, bouncing back and forth between the Boy Scouts and indecision about whether to give up the fight against marriage equality. Follow this link to read an interesting article in Mother Jones about the how the Mormon Church is showing signs of giving up its fight over marriage equality.

    Then where, oh where can fundie Xtians look for hate-filled leadership? You guessed it, gentle reader. Moscow, Russia. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, has taken up the mantle. Here is the link to the article in which Patriarch Kirill has said the following during the last several days:

    “We face enormous temptations when countries start approving sin and codifying it into law in order to justify it…This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction.”

    Patriarch Kirill is telling his followers that gay people are bringing on the apocalypse. Do his followers take his advice to heart? The article link and jpeg picture below should answer that question. Looking at the jpeg picture, you might think you’ve been transported in time to some of the more disturbing moments of the 20th century. Observe Godwin’s Law or ignore Godwin’s Law as you see fit.

    Article link: https://sites.google.com/a/spectrumhr.org/www/hot-news-1/russianlgbtteenspubliclybulliedandtorturedbyneonazisonvideolocallawenforcementcondoneshomophobia

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Hello Maddow——still have a conscience?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Moose and Squirrel vill vear Rainbows Boris, Ve must tell Putie!

  • orogeny

    A mere child…wait until you get a bit of life experience under your belt. ;-)

  • artr2

    Fuck Russia. I’m going to boycott ALL russian products. Lets kick them in their financial balls for their homophobia.

  • Indigo

    Mostly I say “gay” but I use “queer” from time to time because it has a certain ironic value along with a certain reclaiming antiquity feel about it. But I’m only 72 years old so I have very little insight into what the Older Generation think.

  • Jim Olson

    Really, I’m not going to comment about the athletes pulling out…really…. ;)

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Most people, even vodka drinkers, don’t drink it. Stoli’s share of the vodka market is only about 15%. If you walk into a bar and order a vodka rocks, or any mixed drink, they’re not going to give you Stoli, unless you specifically ask for it, mainly because it’s expensive. I’m still of the opinion that this boycott is nibbling at the tiny little edges that could hurt the company’s sales in the US, but ultimately serve no political purpose in Russia.

  • Steven

    You’re right, NBC wouldn’t cover it even if there were massive protests in the streets. They have their feel-good stories to promote, and damned be the homos if we get in the way.

    I think the most effective way to raise awareness would be for the athletes themselves to refuse to participate because of the virulent atmosphere. But that’s asking a lot of young people who have trained their whole lives for that moment; they shouldn’t be expected to throw that aside. But how cool would it be if they did?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    The original distillery was built in 1901, though looking at pictures of it now, there doesn’t seem to be anything left of the “historic” structure, nor even anything from 1948. When Stoli itself came in, it spent $100 million reworking the site to suit their needs.

  • jomicur

    If it does affect the Olympics, we’ll never hear about it from NBC, which already runs puff pieces promoting them just about every night on their evening news. We need to start pressuring them to cover Russia’s heinous behavior. (I’ve emailed them–and gotten a boilerplate thank-you-for-your-interest response–and plan to do so repeatedly till they address the issue.)

    Likewise the other MSM. We need to persuade them that covering Russia’s anti-gay jihad outweighs the ad revenue they’ll accrue from the numerous Olympics sponsors, such as Visa.

    I’ve never been convinced that boycotts accomplish much. But. as ACT UP showed the world, making noise can make a HUGE difference.

  • Ryan

    Russia (and Russian products) are being focused on because Russia has recently passed oppressive, anti-gay legislation. It is also is in focus because it will be hosting the Olympics.

  • Jason

    The distillery is historic, seriously .. use your brain. Stoli can not do anything against Russia. It’s not a russian company and has zero financial ties to the government… urghhhh

  • Rob

    Riga isn’t in Russia either.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    I haven’t drank that shit since college.

    It makes my face go numb.

  • http://thebrainpolice.blogspot.com microdot

    you idiot, you just dropped a red flag….if this is your pro Stoli propaganda, then YOU LOSE! I hope your bosses send you to the gulag of their choice to punish you for your silliness! Maybe you’ll get to hang out with some of those sexy foxes from Pussy Riot!

  • nocadrummer

    As a gay man, I’m also not comfortable using the term “queer”. This seems to be an age-related phenomenon. Younger folks have embraced “queer” whereas those born before “the 60′s” seem to shun it. Perhaps it’s because we associate it more with the bullying we experienced growing up during those times. Color me “gay” instead.
    As for the boycott… I’m not a vodka drinker, so I would have no effect on their sales. However, if the new Russian law is as draconian as it seems, we might find some of our athletes (and those of other countries) get jailed during their visit because they ARE gay. Now wouldn’t THAT be a black eye to the Russians?

  • Drew2u
  • Drew2u

    Anyone notice none of Stoli’s other Facebook pages (Stoli Canada, Stoli New Zealand, Stoli France, etc.) changed for the new look that other page has?
    It makes that one page look more and more like a PR stunt than anything substantive.

  • Ruslanchik

    Same here. I chose Mexico from the country list (though my IP address gives away that I’m in the US) and got the same English LGBT message.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Blech, Coors! I wouldn’t buy that stuff even if the Coors family weren’t far-right extremists that bought planes and guns for Reagan’s illegal war against the People of Nicaragua. And are huge funders of the anti-gay agenda.

  • glitterfiend

    While I absolutely appreciate the solidarity and concern about words, for the most part “queer” has been reclaimed by LGBTQ folks. Plenty of people use it to describe their sexuality because it isn’t so gender-specific, and a lot of trans people appreciate that. Also, there are plenty of people who identify primarily as “genderqueer,” which means that they don’t identify as male or female (usually.) That said, some better words to make sure not to use are faggot, dyke, and tranny. These are sometimes affectionately used, but most LGBTQ people don’t appreciate cis-het folks using them. Anyway, there are definitely people who would disagree with this, but I thought I’d weigh in as a queer-as-sexuality-identified and genderqueer-gender-identified person. :)

  • FFP

    Most of Eastern Europe is intolerant to all kinds of minorities (not only to gays). Why would be the Russians any different? If you want to boycott, then be principled and don’t single out Stoli or Russia. This coming from a non-Russian non-drinker.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Right. The Russians and Putin are learning how we stay relatively free in America. We follow the money. Then we boycott.

  • goulo

    Visiting the Stoli site from Poland, I see the same (English) pro-LGBT message.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Grapes are fine, but you’ll need a special dispensation for orange juice or Coors.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Don’t worry. We’ll keep your terrible little secret.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    If Stoli doesn’t like the boycott, it can take it up with Putin.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Boycott, what boycott? I thought it was OK to buy grapes again…

  • ComradeRutherford

    ” historic distillery in Riga that has been making vodka since 1948″

    Ooh! 65 years sure is ‘historic’!

  • Tony

    Went to Stoli.com and they sent me to the same page. I am not gay unless their algorithm knows something I don’t!

  • FLL

    The boycott, of Stoli and other Russian products, is certainly warranted. I’m not sure if a U.S. boycott of the Olympics would be the most effective strategy; if Western countries aren’t at the Olympics to compete with Russian athletes, it would just give the Russians gold, silver and bronze medals they don’t really deserve. Much more effective–spectacular, really–would be if Olympic athletes (whether gay or allies) make public statements in support of gay rights, both at the Olympic ceremonies and outside the ceremonies. The very worst that could happen to them is that they would spend two weeks in a Russian jail cell, be escorted to their airline flight and arrive home as international heroes. Having been deported, they wouldn’t be able to enter Russia again (at least until the present regime is replaced), but since countries only host the Olympics once every 20 years or so, athletes probably wouldn’t care about not being able to enter Russia until the current regime is replaced. I think this would be very tempting for many Olympic athletes. Putin may have painted himself into a corner.

  • FLL

    Unsupported statements. You have to support your statements with some evidence, just as John has supported his statements with evidence.

  • http://heimaey.us/ jim morrissey

    This boycott will be forgotten about in two weeks.

  • http://heimaey.us/ jim morrissey

    Again, the only way to make a dent in the Olympics is to have sponsors (and athletes) pull out. Or for at the very least, governments/countries threaten to not attend.

  • Badgerite

    Still. What would really bite them in the a== would be an Olympic boycott.

  • Indigo

    That’s nice but . . . take it up with the Russian government, Mr. CEO.

  • Jason

    Get your facts straight. SPI is not a russian company. The owner, Yuri Sheffler, is an enemy of Putin’s… To think Stoli can do anything against Russia is absurd.. By boycotting Stoli you are actually helping Russia..

  • RyansTake

    #1 rule of getting things done: go after the money — or the people who have the money.

    We should expand the boycott to any Russian company that sells to the West — and demand that they tell Putin, in the harshest terms possible, to repeal these bigoted and dangerous laws.

    If enough large companies are swayed, it will happen. This has happened time and time again.

  • Steven

    I’m with you, John. I’m sick of the over-the-top homophobia, and I think this is going to affect the Olympics next year, although how I’m not sure yet. If I were a gay athlete, I’d be really torn. But I’m not a gay athlete, just a mildly out-of-shape 44-year old gay man, and I say fuck ‘em all.

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