Why I'm Boycotting Russian Vodka

Comments

1
I kinda like your take from 6 years ago: http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/06/stol…
2
If only there were a place that was LGBT-friendly _and_ made lots of good vodka.

Oh wait. WE'RE LIVING IN IT.
3
So who are the bars serving Stoli?

Come on, name names.
4
The sentiment is true, but.... Doesn't this simply punish Russian companies, rather than the Russian government? If a distinction is not being drawn, should the boycott extend to Russian restaurants? What about businesses simply owned by Russians?

Not trying to start a fight, just trying to distinguish the target.
5
@ 4 - Russian businesses are better able to exert pressure on the Russian government than American citizens. And if American citizens want Russian businesses to listen to us, we must speak with our dollars.
6
@4 — In a perfect scenario, if enough people in the US stopped buying Russian vodka, the dent in export revenue would get Russian lawmakers attention. Of course Putin's regime isn't exactly famously sensitive to the will of outsiders, but hey, not buying Russian vodka is literally the least we can do.

There's no reason to lump Russian nationals or ex-pats into this.
7
But Stoli Blueberri is so delicious.
8
I boycott all vodka, so this is easy. But two things:

* every bar should not only stop carrying Stoli but should put up big signs saying why, maybe with an ugly picture of a Russian gay parader getting his face broken from your link.

* The straight athletes in the US team have to protest too, even if it results in punishment from the team -- ESPECIALLY if it results in punishment from the team. I'd like to see a gay rights banner, in Russian, during the opening ceremonies march. Or 200-odd lavender gloves, one on each right hand, or something. Create an incident, but make it big enough to have a real impact on the news. If they all get arrested, so much the better -- imagine the furore if hundreds of athletes get dragged out of the stadium during the ceremony.

I've been in that stadium where Tommy Smith and John Carlos held their fists aloft, the Estadio Olimpico Universitario, and a little chill ran up and down my spine (though that may also have been because I was looking at the pit where one of my childhood heroes Bob Beamon destroyed the long jump record). Maybe somebody will feel that way about a Russian stadium in 45 years. Too long, too long.
10
don't forget polish vodka, too. they are just as repressive as russian when it comes to LGBT rights. buy and drink amurrican liquor!
11
Svedka is cheaper and better than Stoli.
IMHO
12
Why not boycott the Olympics? It might send a message to the IOC not to select homophobic places in the future.
13
All you folks with your fancy vodkas. I bet they even even come in glass bottles, you rich bastards.
14
This is surprisingly dumb Dan, especially coming from you who are normally so erudite. Unless I've missed how vodka companies are the driving force behind these laws, I hardly think that the "Vodka Lobby" is really setup for lobbying on social justice issues. Why not some other totally unrelated Russian products like oil and natural gas? I hear Putin locks up a gay person every time you turn on your stove!
15
I quit drinkin' so that part's easy. But now I have to give up Olympic curling? That's harsh.
16
Isn't it time we brought an end to Putin's boozy gangster party? The discovery of oil back in the U.S.S.R. has turned a somber, intellectual nation of chess players, athletes and novelists into a vast dystopia of knuckleheads and escorts.
17
@14, Russian natural gas supplies Europe, not the US. And we are close to becoming a major gas exporter, which could wean Europe off of Russian gas, which would have the very interesting effect of cutting off Russia's only valuable export, which would destroy their economy. Destroyed economies tend to be pretty bad on human rights....
18
oooh, another boycott!

fun!!

Danny dear, please update us on the Utah boycott.

btw, did you notice that Salt Lake is the most upwardly mobile city in the USA?
19
Fuck Stoli is my favorite vodka but since production is back in Russian hands, and the owner is one of the richest 100, I'm in. Russia is an Oligarchy now so yeah hitting one of the Oligarchs in the wallet might just help.
20
I don't have the budget to dump my Stoli, I have 2 bottles to go. But I won't buy any more Russian vodka after that.
21
#17

Or we could build a hydrogen economy.

Like Britain.

Home to Little Prince Boy George.
22
Um, everybody? Better check out if this is true before you go dumping Stoli...

Presently the internationally distributed version of Stolichnaya is not a Russian vodka but is distilled and bottled in Latvia.


Latvia is independent of Russia, and is culturally very different. If this is true, you'll be hurting the wrong country.
23

#22

Yes, you're right. It sounds like buying more Stoli would do harm to Russia as they lost control of the brand. So drink up!
24
Well, the cash flow for Stoli is probably going back to Mother Russia. So ... I'll see what I can find out.
25
I can do without Russian vodka and other products [I'll even give up my mid-morning beluga caviar snacks], but I want to see queer and allied athletes with medals on their necks and some kind of visual signal of queerness/alliedness.

As the raised fist was a gesture--literally--of Black Power/Pride, is their a queer equivalent? Dan, can you come up with--and globally popularize--a strong, international hand-sign for Queer Pride? In time for the Olympics? Please?
26
Dan, you're the man, but I don't think a boycott of Russian vodka is really going to have any impact at all. This isn't the U.S. we're talking about, it's a totalitarian regime (viva la difference, eh?), and totalitarians don't have to give a shit about consumer boycotts. If they want to oppress people, they'll damn well do it, and in fact may even be goaded to double down under pressure. It may make people in the western world feel better about doing something, but it won't change the plight of queers over there.

Now if this were San Francisco in 1974 and Coors beer, then maybe...

27
@22: Dan covered this. RTFA.
28
Interesting. The Stoli brand is a mess, at least as far as international distribution goes. Seems that the Soviet Union's monopoly on vodka export was dissolved ("illegally" as alleged by the current Russian Federation), and that many brands were sold to a company called SPI for a mere $300,000. This company, which is Russian (but headed by a man who fled to Switzerland and faces arrest if he goes back) is the one distilling in Latvia and selling it to the world. Another Russian company (backed by the government) sued in US court over the use of the Stoli brand but lost.

Interestingly, another lawsuit brought by Russian Standard alleged that it was all distilled in Latvia, but SPI claims it's distilled in the Russian cities of Kaliningrad and Tambov, but is then shipped to Latvia for bottling and export. But... they also admitted to smuggling the vodka out of Russia by labeling it under another name.

I don't care for Stoli myself. But it sounds like a boycott of Stoli may not impact Russia meaningfully... or maybe it would? If only there was a more recent article. (Although various blogs and info sites confirm Stoli's current Latvian origin.)
29
@ 27, you're right. Well, that's my fault for letting my eyes glaze over at all the bolding and capitalizing. (Wonder why that article Dan links didn't show up on my search? My google-fu is failing me...)
30
@21: Gydrohem etc.
31
Anyone else notice that the Russian gendarmes' logo, rendered in Cyrillic--OMOH--is "homo" spelled backwards?
32
Well, as some who almost never drinks, I promise that when I don't drink, it will be Russian vodka I won't be drinking. (Okay, and when I do drink, too, but it may take a year or two to test my resolve.)
33
I asked Martina Navratilova what she thought of boycotting the Olympics. She said, "I never believed in boycotts, that’s running away from the problem."
34
I don't drink vodka and I rarely eat caviar. Is there something else I can boycott?
35
Instead of boycotting the Olympics, I suggest that all countries that are appalled by what is going on officially stitch a small rainbow logo into their uniform designs, big enough to be seen on TV. Then Russia has to make the choice to either accept the logo or ban that whole country. You will see them bow down about as quickly as they did in Cuba. And while they will try to film around it whenever they can, the whole drama around every cut will create more media attention than they ever wanted to attract and every artificial blending away of cameras in the official Russian reporting will be commented on, and the ensuing internet dialog will be endless. And it should be on all uniforms of athletes, coaches, associated delegates, etc.
Make it backfire on Russia - that is the way to fight back.

And every country would be indirectly required to take sides, not only EU and US, but also Australia, NZ, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa...and on and on and on. Russia would achieve exactly the opposite of what they intended. It needs to be part of the uniform, rather than an individual choice. Individuals would obviously just become targets for expressing support for LGBT. The different Olympic delegations that are now thinking about their stance on the matter and whether they are going to boycott, hopefully decide to go this route in sufficient enough numbers. This way the athletes would have their games, yet the Olympic spirit and oath would be honored and Russia as a country in its human rights violation would find itself exposed.
Please help spread this idea!

36
LOL and STFU faggots. Long live Putin and death to all queers. All bars serve Stoli b/c it is he best. Roast in hell fuckers.
37
Here is a list of Russian vodkas currently available in the US: Dovgan, Gold Symphony, Standart, Hrenovuha, Kauffman, Kubanskaya, Moskovskaya, Narodnaya, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Putinka, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard, Shustov, Starka, Stolnaya, Youri Dolgoruki


I'll DOUBLE boycott that one.
38
This reminds me of the Coors beer boycott of the1970s-80s. And yes, you'd better believe it will work.
39
Plenty of Seattle vodka you should be drinking regardless.
40
How bout my bottle of Smifnoff vodka? Or is that just a Russiany-sounding brand name to sound authentic?
41
I don't drink vodka, and I'm not giving up my mail order brides. Does Russia export anything else I can boycott?
42
@21

Attention Venomlash

Your constant mocking of things that I post in the same gainsaying manner is, I believe, in violation of the terms and conditions of the comments within SLOG.

If you persist, I will make make case to the Editors, based on the terms and conditions stated below:


Content Posting Guidelines

You agree not to use The Stranger's website to: (A) publish content that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, obscene, invasive of another's privacy, or reflective of racial or ethnic bias;


tortious (ˈtɔːʃəs)

— adj
law having the nature of or involving a tort; wrongful

[C14: from Anglo-French torcious, from torcion, literally: a twisting, from Late Latin tortiō torment, from Latin torquēre to twist; influenced in meaning by tort ]


Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships.


I hope this is fair warning.
43
#28

So it's easier just to order Absolut?

http://www.absolut.com/us

44
This is like saying "Not all US States Allow Gay Marriage. Boycott all Bourbon!"
45
@41: Oil.
46
I already don't drink Russian vodkas, because why would you trust them when there are plenty of other vodkas out there?

That said, given that I can be arrested in Russia just because some cop suspects I'm pro-gay means I won't ever be visiting there. Not that I really wanted to mind you, but it would have been cool to check out St. Petersburg at some point.
47
I agree with Fnarf that something involving the athletes would be huge. Not as much into the colored gloves thing though, for various reasons. Given how iconic the rainbow flag has become, I'd prefer to see that somehow incorporated into the mix, maybe at the ceremonial lap they take at the opening ceremony, or even just carried up onto the podium and waved at a medal presentation if that was somehow more powerful.
48
It's not enough to boycott the olympics. Boycott all american advertisers who sponsor the TV broadcasts of this olympic games.
49
@45: Right. And those little dolls you open up and look, another doll! And kalashnikovs. And..... ?

Kind of a useless country, isn't it?
50
@42 - Har dee har har. I'm sure the Editors are going to eat that one up. Come back to the real world, Bailo.
51
well, aren't we thin skinned, SROTU. what's the matter? escort service wouldn't take your credit card?
52
And as always what happens now is up to you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDaLEGb_m…

53
Clever as it is, I don't think we're going to drink our way to helping the LGBT Russians. Please, let's not fall down the KONY 2012 Slacktivist Trap, and instead how about we put as much energy into pushing the Obama "Gay Rights Are Human Rights" Department of State to applying IMMEDIATE and DIRECT pressure on this issue. Boycotts take time, and have a spotty record of effectiveness...
54
Tennessee has a gay marriage ban. Does that mean I shouldn't drink Bourbon from there? Because I am NOT willing to go that far.

Sorry.
56
Everyone can do something. Don't watch the games on t.v. Don't buy what's advertised during the games on t.v. If we can get just ten % to not support t.v. broadcast, it would cost millions.
57
It's worth noting that Seattle has one of five Russian Consulates in the United States. It's not far from Capital Hill. It's in One Union on 600 University St.

Maybe you could tell an official Government representative that there are plenty of good reasons for them to change their policy. Maybe open up the dialogue with a carrot and not a stick?

For more information on the Russian Consular Offices
http://www.netconsul.org/
58
Why not ask of your governments to dump Russian oil instead? That would be much more effective.
59
@54: If you can't perceive the difference between a ban on same-sex marriage and an active and violent and politically-motivated campaign that targets and scapegoating a vulnerable minority group... you're too stupid to bother with.
60
Pogrom is too strong a word for what's happening in Russia; it demeans the experience of eastern jews whose families experienced pogroms throughout the 2nd millenium; it also cheapens the word. It's like Calling 9/11 the American Holocaust.

That being said, the IOC should NOT be holding Olympics in a state that openly has these types of policies. Forger a boycott - the games should either be immediately moved or simply cancelled, and the shame should rest fully on the Russian electorate.
61
@ 60, I disagree. If all the parallels between the situatin today and the pre-WWI era aren't all there, that's a matter of a) the fact that LGBT people, born as they are, are fully integrated and can't be forced into a Pale of Settlement, and b) it just hasn't yet gotten that bad. But it is still the government itself organizing riots against a minority of its own population, and therefore calling these riots "pogroms" is entirely in keeping with that word's definition.
62
@60 agree completely though unlikely to happen given the years of planning needed to prep the location. Also agree re progrom, I thought it was a typo until your comment, thank you for inciting me to educate myself a bit.

I'm throwing a plug out for Effen vodka--Dutch and so so so good. Especially love the cucumber flavor this time of year, throw some in a glass with ice, a splash of sprite, and a lime = refreshing drunken goodness :)
63
Dump Stoli, DRINK ABSOLUTE!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9FHa0aMa…

64
Dump Stoli, DRINK ABSOLUTE!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9FHa0aMa…

65
drink more beer!
66
Seattle being the HOME of a MAJOR buyer of Russian vodka that being COSTCO. Rally up & go to their HQ in Issaquah, or out front of their warehouses!!!!
67
There's an important difference between 1968 US and today's Russia. Kareem would not have been arrested just for being black. Well.... as long as he wasn't driving or wearing a hoodie, I guess -- point is, there were no "anti-black" laws. But gay athletes who travel to Russia may be arrested simply for being gay -- *legitimately* under the explicitly anti-gay laws. Does a rainbow flag pin count as "homosexual propaganda" in Russia? I bet you it does.
68
Hm, I'm starting to wonder that maybe Dan's focus on this issue will actually come to something. Maybe if we created something similar to the santorum bomb... Ridicule could actually be very effective considering the collective complex of inferiority of our government.
69
Stoli isn't even from Russia anymore; it's based in Latvia. Not only that, but as a company Stoli sponsors all sorts of LGBT events all over the country. Why don't you do your research before you lead a witch hunt against a totally incorrect target?
70
Stoli isn't even from Russia anymore; it's based in Latvia. Not only that, but as a company Stoli sponsors all sorts of LGBT events all over the country. Why don't you do your research before you lead a witch hunt against a totally incorrect target?
71
Fleischmann's isn't from Russia right??

whew!

/pours another screwdriver
//also, vodak
72
Listent to the LGBT people of Russia - boycotting Russian Vodka will do very little, if nothing. Jesus Christ, Dan. What's happening to you? Focus on what Russia exports most and call for a boycott of that.
73
The WildRose is an Absolute bar, no Stoli there!
74
Read this. It is truly horrifying.

https://sites.google.com/a/spectrumhr.or…

It's not just the Russian government. The whole society has gone crazy about the gays.
75
here is a statement i just got from Stoli… WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT STOLI BEING A RUSSIAN COMPANY?????

Media Statement: Stolichnaya Premium Vodka has and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend of the LGBT community. The brand's ongoing commitment to the LGBT community currently includes an exclusive national partnership with Gaycities.com & Queerty.com in search of the Most Original Stoli Guy. Previous national initiatives included serving as the official vodka of Miami Gay Pride Week as well as ongoing events with a focus on Pride month. While Stoli is made from Russian ingredients, the brand is not a Russian company and is not affiliated and/or tied to the Russian government. Stoli firmly opposes the beliefs supported by the Russian Government in relation to the LGBT community.

Twitter Statement:
· Stolichnaya Premium Vodka continues to proudly support the LGBT community with this year’s nationwide Most Original Stoli Guy competition in partnership with GayCities & Queerty

· Stolichnaya Premium Vodka strongly opposes the beliefs supported by the Russian Government in relation to the LGBT community

Sean Heal
William Grant & Sons
Division Marketing Manager
mobile (1): 619-733-6594
76
The Olympic commitee, and therefor Russia, don't give a rats ass if individual athletes get thier panties in a bunch. You want to get thier attention you need a national boycott (like in 1980). Of course Obama neither cares about gays enough to go there nor dose he have balls as big as Carter's. (And Carter had itty bitty teeny tiny soft little balls).

Failing that, a publicized and organized boycott of all Olympic sponsors and advertisers doing business in the US (and unrelenting negative press painting them as homophobes) is the best open channel. Put Coca Cola, P&G, Visa, Nike, McDonald's and the rest of them on notice now that if they sponsor the games or its athletes in any way they will be mercilessly smeared as homophobic and you might get traction. With a little luck Chick-Filet will be the only US sponsor / advertiser. Mess with the revenue stream (both the Olympic committee's and NBC's) and you might make someone with power give a shit.

Stoli is small potatoes....
77
Also... Name another Russian company that even puts forward a pro-gay position... Why would we punish our only "friend" in Russia???

Holding Stoli, who, as a company markets a very pro-gay position, responsible for the Duma & Putin is equivalent to holding American Airlines (which launched its Rainbow campaign, an LGBT-dedicated sales staff and Web site to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, way back in 1994) responsible for the actions of Congress and Obama.

Why does the gay community always lash out at its supporters over injustice. I assume, in this case, its because the only Russian product we can think of is vodka... Particularity Stoli... Probably because Stoli sponsors our parades, advertises in our media and is front and center in our bars.

Geesh!
78
How about this time we don't listen to the status quo apologists, wimp out, and end up do nothing? How about trying to pull together for the world wide gay community? Boycott Russia and Jamaica and all their products.
79
You've got to be kidding me. Just when I think Americans are making headway internationally, they up and out stupid themselves. Slow clap for boycotting a country and a culture that is largely NOT IN CONTROL of their government.
80
You might want to do research before you decide to promote a boycott - Stoli is NOT made in Russia - the US brand name is owned by Pepsi and it is made in Latvia - a FORMER Soviet country. Sheep - I hear the baaa's in the background.
81
As for me I will stay with my Absolut. Citron
82
@40 - Smirnoff is owned and produced by a British company, Diageo, and is produced and bottled in India, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Despite the Russian-sounding name, there's nothing Russian about it.
83
Holy Fuck, Dan Savage, you are the goddamn stupidest shit of all time. I can't believe this happened. Fucking American trash.
84
Stoli is NOT Russian. It's Latvian! Latvia gained independence from Russia in 1991 and was only occupied by Russia since the 40's.
85
So... To review the directive from our Gay Overlords: We are to boycott a pro-gay Latvian product because of anti-gay Russian policies.

Got it!

Should I also cancel my week in Aruba because of, you know, Jamaica?
86
And furthermore, IF Stoli is Russian, don't press releases like the one cited @75 and their blatantly pro gay marketing efforts put them in violation of the law as written??? Aren't they being outwardly supportive of the gay community at extreme risk to themselves. This bullshit boycott potentially punishes a potential victim of the law.

Way to go Dan. Persecute the victim.
87
After making a comment on this blog, I was schooled! (I admit error!) Stoli, even though is Latvian, it owned by SPI, and RUSSIAN owned company. http://www.spi-group.com/
88
Seems to me that Stoli's fervent support of the gay community may put Stoli and its owners in direct violation of the Russian propaganda law. I can't see where it can be read to permit pro gay propaganda by a Russian company (or citizen) anywhere (in or out of Russia). Maybe you can point out a loophole that I'm not seeing that protects them from retaliation under the law for even sending letters like this much less sponsoring the activities described in the letter.

In effect, Dan, you seek to punish a potential victim of the law where you should be supporting its defiance of the law.

How about finding a Russian (not Latvian) company with a bad (or even no) record on gay issues and stick it to them instead. Or is your world so small the Stoli is the only "Russian" product you can think of on a sunny Thursday afternoon?
89
One problem with boycotting Stoli is it's not even made in Russia. It's made in Latvia.
Change has to come from within Russia, not from the west. There are plenty Russians who are appalled by the acts of those Gopniks, and have no problem with homosexuals.
These laws are being used by Putin to divert the public's attention away from his political parties blatant corruption and persecution of those who have called him out on it.
90
Polish vodka is better anyway. Chopin is the best vodka in the world, as far as I'm concerned. And while I wouldn't say Poland is extraordinarily LGBT friendly, it's no Russia. There is a trans member of the Sejm (parliment), forcryinoutloud. When I marched in the Pride parade in Krakow in 2008 I was egged by the knuckleheads protesting, but overall there was excellent police protection.

BTW, did you know vodka (wódka) is just the diminutive of water (woda)? It's like aguacita.
91
Kareem Abdul Jabbar didn't boycott the 1968 Olympic games. Lew Alcindor did. Just being fussy here.
92
Remember after 9/11 all the right-wingers demanded "Freedom Fries" with their cheeseburgers?
Way to stick it in and break it off.

We haven't learned much, have we?
93
Remember after 9/11, all the right-wingers demanded "freedom fries" with their cheeseburgers?
Way to stick it in and break it off.
94
Perhaps the designer of the US Olympic team outfits for the games (all of them) should be done in the Pride rainbow. It's not like Russia will do anything about it. But frankly, the IOC should be doing something about this - like threatening to pull the games. In the absence of this, the West should boycott. I'm a huge Olympics fan, and I'm going to pass watching if it's in Russia under these terms.
95
I will NOT buy Russian vodka and will let bartenders know not to put Russian vodka in my drinks and why.
96
So Stupid. Stoli is a HUGE gay supporter! I guess I will just have to drink more :) Dan, I really really HATE you with every fiber of my being you self-serving douche.
97
There's Russian Consulate General in Seattle. Why don't we show them our protest to anti-gay laws and our support LGBT community in Russia. Here's the address and their phone: 600 University St Ste 2510, Seattle · (206) 728-1910
98
This is actually a pretty good idea... a start... but could take it further to pressure companies to move production out of Russia
So companies like Smirnoff who are foreign owned but still have products produced in Russia
99
I wanted to add a thought about the athletes to the on going debate about whether or not we should boycott the winter Olympics in Russia this year. I had a friend who had trained almost her whole life to be good enough at her sport to be an athlete at the Olympics. She made it and was going to be part of the Olympics. She was elated. All the things she had missed in order to practice, all of the pain she had endured, all of the pushing she had done to her body to become the best, the years and years she had given to become one of the best athletes in the world and compete on the world stage, all of it was worth it because she had succeeded in winning a spot on a US Olympic team. And then we boycotted the Olympics and i watched all of her dreams fall apart and vanish. It was the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow. It was over 30 years ago and still it gets me every time i think about it. It was awful to watch her have everything she had worked so tremendously hard for be gone in a moment and there was nothing that she could do about it. I am not saying that i know whether boycotting or not boycotting is the best decision. I just think it is important to take what boycotting does to the athletes into consideration.
100
Stoli is not really a Russian vodka! Produced in Latvia. Owned by a Russian that the Russian government considers stole the brand from them and he can not go back to Russia and is actively pursued by the Government. Stoli sold in Russia is produced by a Government entity not related to SPI.
101
This isn't the first time Dan has been a stupid fuck. For damned sure it won't be the last time, either. And the last thing you'll ever get out of him is the words "sorry, I was wrong."

OK, I still think he's a pretty OK guy, in spite of that. I can be an asshole too sometimes. But he's dead wrong here. And so are those of you who agree with him.
102
The debate about whether Stoli is Russian or not misses the larger issue, which is that what's happening in Russia to queers is horrible.

See this GailyGrind report from yesterday, Russian Neo Nazi Groups Tricking and Torturing Gay Male Teenagers: http://www.thegailygrind.com/2013/07/25/…

We should stop doing business with Russia altogether, although our continuing to do business with places such as Saudi Arabia with its violations of the rights of women and queers shows that capitalism trumps human rights.