Friday, July 26, 2013


SOchi OlympicsRussia's newly-adopted anti-gay laws are already the subject of worldwide controversy. The laws have already been used to justify police brutality against Russian LGBT activists, as well as the imprisonment of advocates from inside their borders and beyond. LGBT advocates have called for the boycott of many Russian goods as a result. Many others have turned their sights to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, which will be taking place in the Russian city of Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee has already told press that it will "work to ensure" that LGBT athletes from around the globe will be able to compete freely in the games without fear of any legal trouble. Many LGBT athletes have expressed their apprehension anyway. Other athletes and advocates have called for a boycott of the games by the United States and the IOC, including the likes of Harvey Fierstein and Dan Savage.

On other news:  The SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya Vodka, responds to a recent boycott promoted by Dan Savage and other LGBT activists.
Members of the LGBT community are urging a boycott of products manufactured in Russia, following the national adoption of a ban on so-called homosexual propaganda, the refusal to allow gay and lesbian international citizens to adopt orphaned Russian children, and a series of violent demonstrations against the country’s LGBT community in recent months.
Stolichnaya, the popular vodka brand, has been a focus of attacks by activists, who are promoting the hashtags “#DumpStoli” and “#DumpRussianVodka” on Twitter. 
“[T]here is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other U.S. cities to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies," wrote Savage on Wednesday. "And to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, and straight allies in Putin's increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.”
The SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya Vodka, contacted The Advocate today to release an open letter to the LGBT community. The statement stressed that Stoli “firmly opposes such attitude and actions” committed by the Russian government and continues to be a “fervent supporter and friend” of the community, pointing to past endorsements of Pride events and LGBT organizations.
The statement claimed that the Luxembourg-based company is not affiliated with the Russian government, and that the vodka's production is divided between Russia and Latvia.
“We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia,” wrote Val Mendeleev, the CEO of SPI. “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.”

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