Coca-Cola | Pavel Lebedev | Rainbow Flag | Russia | Sochi Olympics

Coca-Cola Defends Arrest Of Russian LGBT Protester

Pavel Lebedev detained
A few days ago we showed you video of Russian LGBT activist Pavel Lebedev being arrested for unfurling the rainbow flag during the Olympic Torch Relay. What you may or may not have noticed was that on the official Olympic security guard's uniform were the Olympic rings and the Coca-Cola logo.

Yesterday the Coca-Cola company released an email statement and responded to the incident and their logo being associated with it in perhaps the worst way possible: by defending the arrest and fining of Lebedev. The statement said, in part:

As a Presenting Partner of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, our logo appears on all of the uniforms for the staff assigned by the Sochi Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) to support the Torch Relay.

SOCOG reported that a spectator was prevented from breaching the security perimeter around the Torchbearer. The spectator was detained briefly by local police and was fined.

Not exactly a strong statement from a company who, in that exact same letter, said:

As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.

Americablog has the full statement and a thorough rundown of what all this means for Coke.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Nazi Coke is poison anyways....

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 24, 2014 6:16:51 PM

  2. No surprize, Coca-Cola officially sided with Russia's fascist regime. I just hope that human rights organisations will take notice and strip Coke of it's high equality indexes.

    Posted by: litper | Jan 24, 2014 6:27:30 PM

  3. I've never liked Coke anyway; tastes like chemicals. Give me Pepsi any day.

    Posted by: Pigs | Jan 24, 2014 6:29:11 PM

  4. HR Ratings??? Ummm... Newsflash...Corporations don't care....

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 24, 2014 6:33:54 PM

  5. Whether Coca Cola deserves any blame depends on why the guy was arrested, with what charges, and whether this was selective enforcement against LGBT advocates.

    One the pictures showed some white tape that I presume represents a barrier that spectators are not supposed to cross. If he went over it, removing him was reasonable as long as everyone else would be treated the same way.

    If he was charged with violating the anti-gay law, Coke should be publicly ridiculed for its statement. If it was a trespassing charge, and if the same charge would be applied for someone who hopped over the barrier to take a picture, then I'd give Coke a pass on it.

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 24, 2014 6:33:56 PM

  6. Where, exactly, did they defend the arrest? What a misleading post title. Coke is disgusting but let's condemn them for what they're ACTUALLY doing.

    Posted by: JMC | Jan 24, 2014 6:34:11 PM

  7. To use a terrible pun, it appears Coke is talking out of both sides of its bottle. They paid a whole pile of money for this and they're not gonna let a bunch of us silly fags screw it up. Maybe we should switch to rum and diet Pepsi.

    Posted by: I wont grow up | Jan 24, 2014 6:34:15 PM

  8. More importantly - and to your point, Bill - the Americablog website reports that the protester was first moved back off the road, but spectators nearby began urging security to ask him what his flag stood for. Pavel refused to answer and a spectator said "Propaganda," at which point he was detained.

    Posted by: cooley | Jan 24, 2014 6:37:25 PM

  9. The thing is, they don't even get any benefit from supporting hate, instead of advertising their sponsorship on every corner they try to downplay it as much as possible. Just look at what happened when McDonalds actually tried to start pro-Sochi campaign - it quickly turned into a huge PR disaster. So at this point I can't even get why they're still sponsoring this?

    Posted by: litper | Jan 24, 2014 6:40:38 PM

  10. Just take a look at the Wikipedia article "Criticism of Coca-Cola" to see just how awful this company has been and continues to be.

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 24, 2014 6:51:40 PM

  11. OMG? The modern Olympics are really all about money? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jan 24, 2014 7:01:42 PM

  12. Coke has a lot of products, but a lot of them are repeats:

    Posted by: john patrick | Jan 24, 2014 7:07:38 PM

  13. So Coca Cola has become another anti-gay Putin Russia mouth-piece. Why don't political and corporate people realize that we can look these things up ourselves now and become aware of their lies and hypocricy? That baffles me.

    I've never been a Coca Cola drinker, but I've gotten the closest people to me to stop consuming it...

    Posted by: bestpartofboycotting | Jan 24, 2014 7:51:46 PM


    Posted by: Tristram | Jan 24, 2014 8:09:44 PM

  15. This headline is misleading! Hold them accountable, but be truthful.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Jan 24, 2014 8:13:37 PM

  16. Company that makes useless over-advertised over-priced product nobody should be ingesting in the first place says what and who cares ?

    Really, if you're upset with this company over anything they say and not with the fact that they even exist in the first place, you're an idiot.

    Posted by: Just Sayin' | Jan 24, 2014 8:32:40 PM

  17. Coke is out of it's of it's league. It confuses capitalistic promotion with "New" communist morality. Not all things go better with coke.

    Posted by: robertL | Jan 24, 2014 9:17:52 PM

  18. Time to pour Coke into the streets..

    Posted by: Robert M. | Jan 24, 2014 9:26:08 PM

  19. Time to drink your PEPSI

    Posted by: Reality | Jan 24, 2014 10:55:43 PM

  20. Coke, you can _suck_my_cock_

    Posted by: Tone | Jan 24, 2014 11:07:27 PM

  21. Guess I'm switching to Pepsi

    Posted by: Andy | Jan 24, 2014 11:22:16 PM

  22. This is why all gay people - and all people who support equal rights of all peoples - must boycott all things Olympic. Do not watch the games and do not buy from the sponsors. And I think that this boycott should extend beyond the games as an apology after-the-fact is far too little and far too late.

    Posted by: John | Jan 24, 2014 11:41:10 PM

  23. Vodka and Pepsi please.

    Posted by: bollox | Jan 25, 2014 12:01:06 AM

  24. *As long as the vodka isn't Russian

    Posted by: bollox | Jan 25, 2014 12:02:30 AM

  25. That young Pavel Lebedev is a civil rights hero. I hope he's OK.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jan 25, 2014 12:09:13 AM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1503« «