Stoli Responds To Boycott, Dan Savage Responds To Stoli

SPI Group letter
In response to the boycott organized by Queer Nation to dump Russian vodkas in protest of Russia's anti-gay laws, Stolichnaya's parent company the SPI Group released a statement pledging their support to the LGBT community: 

We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.

Dan Savage is pleased that this has gotten their attention, but notes that the gesture is not good enough: 

SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it's nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia?

Dan also points out that one of the commenters over at Joe.My.God. makes a very astute observation: 

So is the CEO of Stoli now subject to arrest and incarceration in Russia for writing this pro-gay letter?

Food for thought. Even though the CEO and company are based in Luxembourg, the company's owner Yuri Scheffler lives in Russia and the company's production process involves Russia, while this letter openly condemns the Russian government and explicitly supports homosexuality, thus making it "propaganda" under Russian law.


  1. Jakob Bengt says

    Y Scheffler does not live in Russia and is more or less persona non grata in Russia. This is also the reason the liquid is nowadays produced in Latvia and not Russia. Brand also exist in Russia but then owned by a non related Government owned company and not SPI … So fair to say Stoli is not that Russian …

  2. Joseph says

    Jakob has it right. I mean they are kind of stuck on what they could actually even do to create any change in a country that is far more right on it then the US. Imagine trying to get a straight up gay marriage bill through the Congress then times that by 100 and you have Russia. Boycotting Vodka will do nothing other than hurt businesses not even involved.

    *start rant*

    Also why is Dan Savage saying anything? Is anyone else sick to death of him trying to speak for our entire community like he is the damn LGBT King or something? Saw him on Real Time last week…makes every gay person like stupid every time he opens his mouth.

    *end rant*

  3. Wolfgang says

    What is Dan Savage doing? Not seeing him travelling to Moscow saving the country’s gays one at a time?
    Is he recording videos patronizing Russians about how our glorious boycott will make things better for them?

  4. sylvatica says

    Bye bye Towleroad, the comments section has become unbearable nowadays.
    I’ll still follow Will and RJ on Youtube.

  5. Mercedes says

    This seems like a very shallow boycott. Vodka? that’s the one thing gays want to be identified as boycotting because of Russian’s anti LGBT policies?
    Yes, it is getting attention, but is it really the attention wanted?

  6. Doug Shingleton says

    Baes upon that summation of boycotting things Russian BIllioniares own, lets boycot Barclays Center, and the Brooklyn nets, a russian billionaire owns them, and while we are at it, lets boycot building skyscrapers, as much of our steel nows comes from Russia. An d if we are going after Corporations for paying taxes to Russia, lets boycot Ford Motor Co. they have 2 factories there, and employ over 5,000 Russians.. And Kraft Foods, they have dozens of factories in Russia and distribute many products there, THis is a smear campaign for a brand that has Russian on its’ label, but not the only vodka to do so. The sad part is this Vodka has VERY little ties to Russia, outside of wheat, and sued Russia to get away from them. And has no corporate office there, and pays no taxes there..

  7. GMinSD says

    I read a post on FaceBook that one of our local bars in San Diego, Pecs, is no longer serving Stoli. What are the other bars waiting for?

  8. jomicur says

    If the president of Stoli is concerned about the boycott, he should take it up with Putin, not us.

  9. Rexford says

    I agree with the vodka boycott, but I think a far better action would be to get all of the various international motor racing organizations to agree to boycott holding any races at the new speedway still being constructed in Sochi. Job 1 would be to get FIA to pull out of the Formula 1 race that’s supposed to be held there in 2014. Putin’s been very involved in this and it would be a real slap to lose this. – jmho

  10. Low says

    The renationalization bit is one of the odder parts of the brand. I’m curious as to the ownership of the brand as a timeline.

    An easier line of attack is actually SPI’s own advertising and marketing of Stolichnaya. They are very careful to cite that they use Russian ingredients and for reasons other than that as well, their vodka is Russian. Even if their company is based in Luxembourg and part of the production is based in Latvia and the man who brought the brand out of Russia is in self-imposed exile, they are still trying to capitalize on the reputation and name of Russia.

  11. Tom Cardellino says

    If the International Olympic Committee really cared an iota for LGBT civil rights, not only for Olympic athletes but for their millions of LGBT fans worldwide, why don’t they provide for a Rainbow Flag (or more so to my liking, many Rainbow Flags, one for each nation’s contingent civilized enough to stand up to prejudice of such a massive scale) to be carried alongside the national banners when the international array of Olympic teams march around the Olympic Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies? After all, these fools on the Committee picked Sochi well after it was known that Russia was on a religious driven path to annihilate LGBT rights, just as Germany was known to be on a path to annihilate LGBT, Jewish, Romany, etc. rights when the Olympic Committee chose Berlin to host the Games in 1936. In all of their ultra-rich behind closed doors and historically bribery-ridden decision-making machinations, of course there was no consideration of the chosen venue’s dastardly civil rights abuses. There never has been and there never will be. The elite of the IOC are more concerned with getting to guzzle Russian Beluga caviar than care about bloodshed and persecution before, during and well after the Games of Sochi have ended.

  12. Will says

    Dan Savage is right and Harvey Fienstien is right.

    International shame has to start somewhere and boycotting Russian Vodka (all brands) is the beginning, but it is not the only product imported. Stop buying anything Russian made.

    Russian LBGT equal rights and protection starts with defiance (Boycotts to call attention) and strong international shame and exposure.

    Encourage our politicians to speak out for equal protection and the Olympic Athletes (LBGT and otherwise) to refuse to participate, boycott and challenge advertisers that plan to advertise during the games.

    For the Athletes that do participate (including U.S. and Other countries), demand that they stand defiant and carry or wear a rainbow flag or patch or ribbon, etc.. Let the rest of the world know your position.

    Putin’s law is in direct conflict with world views on equality for all and directly in conflict with what the Olympic games stands for.

    A promise to be “exempt” is not enough.

    It also contradicts his own position if protection of “the children” is the reasoning behind his law. Are Russian children not supposed to watch the Olympics?

    Putin is arrogant and stubborn and he needs to be embarrassed by the Worlds view of Russia to make any changes.