NYC Bar and Restaurant Coalition to Dump Russian Vodka into the Streets of Manhattan Today

The United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association of New York (URTO) and LGBT activists are planning to dump Russian vodka into the streets of Manhattan this afternoon and call for a ban of Russian-made spirits, liquors, and foods to protest anti-gay laws in that country, ABC News reports:

VodkaThe move is meant to protest Russian laws that ban the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and prevent citizens of countries that permit gay marriage from adopting Russian children, according to the statement.

In Russia, gay public displays of affection, including holding hands, or displaying symbols like a rainbow flag, are now banned. It is even illegal to speak about homosexuality around minors.

"A ban on Russian liquor and products could have an economic effect on the former Soviet Union," the statement said. "The URTO will be urging that people drink and eat American products instead."

This boycott appears to be the first city-wide move to protest Russia's anti-gay sentiment.

URTO represents 3,000 hotels, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants according to the NYDN.

Stolichnaya and its parent company SPI, which have been the main targets thus far, have been fighting boycotters. SPI CEO Val Mendeleev says that while the brand uses Russian ingredients it is based in Luxembourg, not Russia, and that Stoli and SPI have been in contest over ownership of the brand for 10 years.

Said Mendeleev to Michelangelo Signorile at XMProgress:

“Stoli has been a friend of the LGBT community and has been an opponent of the Russian government. Stoli was singled out by the community with which we associated in a way that we don’t believe was appropriate. If you look at our relationship with the Russian government, we’ve been boycotted by the Russian government for the past 10 years. We’ve been threatened, raided. And now we are being boycotted by the LGBT community.”


  1. Kev C says

    Whoever thought this boycott was a good idea was probably drunk. The problem with Russia is theocratic influence, and they don’t mind us boycotting booze. It won’t affect them at all.

  2. Daniel says

    ^ Kev C.–Agreed. Hopefully people start shifting their attention to supporting Russian LGBT groups financially and marching on Russian institutions overseas (like in Toronto).

    This vodka dumping is at best meaningless, both as an economic tool and as a symbolic gesture. At worst, it’s counterproductive.

  3. Tristy says

    Can we please round up all the people participating in this misguiding boycott and disown them from the gay community. They are making us look like idiots.

  4. says

    UGH, YOU PEOPLE, You the commentators, you are the reason stupid people think they need to ramp up the anti-vodka campaign. They think your stupid backlash is real so they take their thing too far. The vodka boycott is symbolic! Don’t pour vodka into our sewers!

  5. says

    The Vodka Dump was one of the most brilliant Public Relations events in recent LGNT History. Two weeks, the focused energy of activists in different cities to do something about the Russia nightmare.
    And do it on the street with an iconic photo-op that could be done anywhere. Now the draconian Russian laws and their state sanctioned violence are talked about everywhere.
    From the halls of Congress, the State Department, The international Olympic Committee, NBC Universal, The Canadians, the story is far beyond vodka…. but that’s what got it going.

  6. says

    a) Publicity, which it is getting in SPADES

    b) SPI / Mendeleev is now talking about actually supporting LGBT groups IN RUSSIA, which they never did before. Support in the West was a marketing ploy, nothing more.

    Are you shills being paid by Stoli’s PR people?

  7. Joe in Ct says

    Yes, by all means, give it to the homeless. Spread the cheer. This whole boycott Stoli thing is so misguided. Dump your Russian Standard Vodka. That brand actually is Russian. Stoli is not.

  8. 24play says

    Since we seem to have a problem in the LGBT community with lingering ignorance about SPI’s extensive holdings in Russia, allow me to repeat my comment from last Wednesday:

    Anyone who’s interested in the actual facts about SPI’s involvement in Russia can check out the company’s website:

    What information will you find there?

    1) Two of SPI’s three production facilities are located in Russia (in Perm and Tambov).
    2) The distillery in Tambov is Russia’s largest.
    3) SPI is the world’s largest exporter of Russian vodka.
    4) While SPI cannot sell Stolichnaya in Russia, it does sell a long list of other vodka brands that it produces in Russia.
    5) The company purchases 85,000 tons of Russian grain per year.
    6) SPI’s agricultural subsidiary, Raduga, farms 3,700 hectares of land in Russia.
    7) Besides its production facilities and farmland, SPI has other significant real estate holdings in Russia.

    What won’t you find on SPI’s website?

    1) The rainbow-colored statement of LGBT solidarity that currently appears on the English-language homepage of
    2) Any record of the company having spoken out against LGBT bigotry (or in favor of equality) in Russia prior to the boycott.
    3) Any indication that employees of SPI and its subsidiaries who work in Russia are covered by a corporate nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
    4) Any indication that same-sex spouses or partners of employees in Russia are eligible for any of the benefits that are available to opposite-sex spouses.

  9. Daniel Berry, NYC says

    Those of you who opposed the boycott because it won’t be economically meaningful are missing two important points: 1) the symbolic value of calling attention to Russia’s retrograde social policies and attitudes; and 2) the sensitivity to world public opinion that has affected those who govern in Russia since the death of Stalin. ( Stalin wasn’t affect by it because of the amount of vodka he drank.) Main point: such gestures have real value on the world stage–and have a strange way of spreading. Yes, they will still sell lots of vodka, but they won’t like being labelled as barbarians.

  10. Randy says

    Even if the Stoli boycott doesn’t affect Russia, it can still affect Stoli employees, who need a non-discrimination policy and equal partner benefits in every location where Stoli has employees. That’s a good step forward.

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