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Queer Nation Responds To Stoli Over Russian Vodka Boycott

Queer Nation Vodka Ban
Due to recent human rights atrocities committed in Russia, LGBT and human rights activists are calling for a boycott of Russian vodka. Many celebrities as well as gay and gay-friendly bars across the country have jumped on the bandwagon, prompting a response from the CEO of SPI Group, the company that produces Stolichnaya vodka. Dan Savage has already issued a response to the response. Now, Queer Nation is issuing their own reply in a press release. 

Via Joe. My. God...

Val Mendeleev, the chief executive officer of SPI Group, the owner of the Stolichnaya brand, confirmed in an open letter on July 25 that SPI produces this vodka in Russia and that SPI has offices and operations in Russia. Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka that is owned by a company that was founded in Russia in 1991. 

On the same day that SPI released its open letter to the Advocate, we learned that Russian thugs, emboldened by Russia’s anti-gay law, have taken to gay web sites to lure gay people to supposed encounters where they are viciously beaten. This is just the latest in a series of violent attacks against LGBT Russians and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia. 

This violence follows news reports of Russian police and prosecutors targeting LGBT people and groups in Russia for arrests and trials. At least two Russian LGBT groups have gone underground as a result.

In the open letter, Mr. Mendeleev cited a few LGBT events where SPI promoted its Stolichnaya brand as evidence of the company’s support for our community. Mr. Mendeleev, marketing will not save LGBT lives.

A single open letter that was discreetly placed with a single gay publication in the US will not help LGBT Russians nor will it have an impact on the Russian government’s anti-gay campaign. This and your refusal made in an earlier statement to confront the Russian government’s anti-gay bigotry make clear that you are not the fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community you claim to be. 

By its own admission, SPI Group operates in Russia and pays taxes to the Russian government. That money funds these continuing attacks on LGBT people and organizations in Russia. Queer Nation will continue its boycott of Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas until this anti-gay law is repealed and the Russian government guarantees the safety of its LGBT citizens and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia. 

We will not help you fund the Russian war on LGBT people.

Queer Nation

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  1. "Mr. Mendeleev, marketing will not save LGBT lives."

    And it follow that boycotting a vodka brand will not help save LGBT lives.

    Posted by: Pierre | Jul 26, 2013 4:34:17 PM

  2. While we're busy going on about Stoli, How about we consider pushing companies such as McDonald's and KFC who have stores in Russia to make a statement of some sort. They pay taxes on their sales that go into Russian coffers.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 26, 2013 4:42:21 PM

  3. You are wrong The boycott/ awareness campaign will save lives
    in just a few days this has sparked outrage and anger that cannot be stopped. We haven't even lit the torch yet...

    Posted by: Gilbert | Jul 26, 2013 4:51:56 PM


    Posted by: Munro | Jul 26, 2013 4:54:23 PM

  5. Great point Steve, thinking long-term and wide. Something activists seem to miss...

    Posted by: Rowan | Jul 26, 2013 4:57:26 PM

  6. Sure, Pierre, boycotts don't work. That's why Stoli didn't waste any time coming out with their first statement.

    Not only is there so-called statement going to fuel the boycott but if there's one thing gay men consume, it's vodka.

    Posted by: Michael | Jul 26, 2013 4:59:23 PM

  7. I'm sure that Mr. Mendeleev wants to keep his response on the down-low so that he does not get arrested for making pro-homosexual statements.

    Posted by: David | Jul 26, 2013 5:10:27 PM

  8. This is stupid and misplaced - this is no more effective than thinking Coca Cola should be boycotted because it pays taxes to the US government. Stoli is a private company and is an LGBT ally. Nothing would make the govt of Russia happier than to see an LGBT ally go out of business.

    Posted by: Tre | Jul 26, 2013 5:15:57 PM

  9. I welcome Stolichnaya's support for the LGBT community.

    Posted by: Kev C | Jul 26, 2013 5:17:45 PM

  10. Nice generalization Michael - and I guess we can all feel proud when we choose to get shitfaced on Absolut instead of Stoli. Crimes against humanity are occurring in the most evil, horrible, terrifying way - boycotting a vodka brand is ludicrous and worse, passive.

    Posted by: Tre | Jul 26, 2013 5:20:14 PM

  11. No you are wrong - it's deliberate aggressive attention seeking political action.

    Posted by: Gilbert | Jul 26, 2013 5:29:46 PM

  12. @Tre - Totally agree with you.

    @Michael - How many boycotts have conservative Christians launched over companies that don't reflect their values? One Million Moms against JC Penney/Ellen?

    This boycott is no different.

    Posted by: Pierre | Jul 26, 2013 5:30:43 PM

  13. Stolichnaya, Russian vodka made in China. Problem solved.

    Posted by: gb | Jul 26, 2013 5:50:08 PM

  14. well all this - should we? could we? well lets see how we all feel - when the Russian Gov't starts STEALING / TAKING AWAY the children of gay and lesbian people........

    Posted by: disgusted American | Jul 26, 2013 6:22:46 PM

  15. All pro-equality, pro-human-decency and pro-live-and-let-live corporations located in in this hateful country should relocate their interests to a country that loves ALL of it's citizens and Chick-fil-a can take their gay-hating asses over to Russia where they will be applauded and supported by Pukin.

    Posted by: ToThePoint | Jul 26, 2013 6:24:27 PM

  16. I very rarely drink alcohol, and I never drink vodka, period. I boycott hatred by not indulging in it. It has the ripple effect. If most people tried this........"Be the change that you want to see in this world." Yes, it starts with YOU.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Jul 26, 2013 6:36:11 PM

  17. This boycott will have no effect. Bottom line Russia does not care about business. Think about this...Walmart the largest retailer in the world with basically an endless checkbook could not get the Russian government to relax enough for Walmart to expand into Russia. If they turn down millions in taxes and lobbying what makes you think they care about Vodka? This will only hurt an ally and turn them against us. This will be like going after Absolut.

    Posted by: Joseph | Jul 26, 2013 6:39:18 PM

  18. You are wrong it's not like going after Absolut we're going after Russian Vodka and Russia everything, we want the Olympics out of Sochi- IT'S OVER. Change the hateful anti LGBT laws NOW
    As for having no effect....

    Posted by: Gilbert | Jul 26, 2013 6:56:06 PM

  19. We haven't even been able to get rid of anti-gay laws here in our own country. What makes Dan Savage and Queer Nation think that Stoli will singlehandedly be able to change Russian law?

    Dan Savage simply picked the most stereotypical product associated with Russia. I could maybe take this boycott seriously (but probably not) if it was a boycott on ALL Russian products, including oil and gas products.

    But that's what this boycott is. Instead it looks like Dan Savage and Queer Nation is just picking on Stoli, which has sponsored LGBT event in the past, and which is distributed by PepsiCo, which is one of the most gay friendly employers in the US.

    What a terrible target to choose.

    Posted by: John | Jul 26, 2013 7:01:54 PM

  20. @Gilbert But it is like going after Absolut. Absolut has offices in Russia, pays taxes to Russia, and actively markets in Russia. Stoli is not even liked by Russia hense the company not even being present in the country and its product sold by a different company in Russia. Bottom line the Olympics are not going to move and the boycott will only make Russia laugh and harm our allies. You want to boycott Stoli? Then lets go after Pepsi and Absolut too. {Pepsi would even have a far greater impact economically anyways}

    Posted by: Joseph | Jul 26, 2013 7:14:56 PM

  21. JEEZ, Dan Savage...why don't you turn that little soap box web cam of yours over to our neck of the woods? MMMMM..what about the DEEP SOUTH?? It's not the safest place for the LGBT to be out and proud. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi,and North Carolina laws do not include violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity as a hate crime! How can we condemn something that's happening here as well? Make a difference here before there! No BOYCOTT PEACHES! BOYCOTT COTTON! coming from Dan's mouth.

    STOLI is sponsoring the search for the STOLI GUY with Gaycities, Andrew Christian, Scruff and more LGBT partners!! Let's take a good look at ourselves before we start boycotting a company who has NO say in Putin's ignorant government policy! PUTIN is creating this anti-gay sentiment not the VODKA companies. Oil, timber, natural gas, and coal are much BIGGER EXPORTS than vodka. Why aren't those companies being punished?? What about caviar? All we're doing is hurting innocent factory workers who MIGHT NOT even feel the same way as Putin that have mouths to feed. PRESSURE OUR GOVERNMENT to denounce these hate crimes before the world. The UN might know a thing or two when it comes to dealing with such economic sanctions and world pressure?

    Posted by: Luis | Jul 26, 2013 7:15:34 PM

  22. No, you are wrong Stoli came late to the game in Gay marketing- and Coca Cola would be a more obvious target than Pepsi
    Boycott Caviar ? That's so two days ago.....
    Pressure ? you haven't seen anything yet

    Posted by: Gilbert | Jul 26, 2013 7:28:01 PM

  23. Boycotting a brand of Vodka is way easier than actually doing something. So, I guess we're all boycotting Vodka now.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 26, 2013 7:29:52 PM

  24. @Steve Bingo! it is the one thing I hate about the change in our community. We went from the community that demanded change and fought hard to help our brothers and sisters gain the protections they need to pretending to care and switching our brand of Vodka. Also while I am still here...If you all end up "changing" the Olympics can we just ban the African Countries for I don't know raping, beating, tourting and beheading LGBT people? Oh wait thats right we only care about developed countries...I guess we better get to work on the 2013 Vodka switch compaign. So stupid.

    Posted by: Joseph | Jul 26, 2013 7:41:13 PM

  25. Dan Savage is making us laughing stocks. And why are we such "sheep?". "Dan Savage and some Queer Group said do this!" we all have to run and jump because these guys said so? Nobody does due diligence, like realizing Stoli is pro-gay and not even Russian?...and now, facts don't matter either...sigh

    Posted by: FakeOutrage | Jul 26, 2013 7:59:53 PM

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