Amid calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, some U.S. bar owners have stopped serving Russian Vodka in protest after Russia enacted new laws that ban the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear.
Bars around the United States are dumping their Russian vodka in protest against anti-gay legislation signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The law, enacted in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which include gay pride events and speaking about homosexuality within earshot of children. Offenders of this law face severe fines and jail sentences.
Last week, American syndicated columnist Dan Savage launched the dump vodka campaign. In a piece posted by The Stranger, Savage pressed gay bars to dump Russian vodka in order to “to show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies 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.”
Though Savage urged readers to ditch all of their Russian vodka, the push is aimed largely at Russian Standard and Stoli -- labels that have come to symbolize Russia. Savage began using the Twitter hashtag #DumpStoli to rally supporters.
Shortly after the column was posted, bartenders from San Francisco to New York began publicly pouring their vodka in the street.
The protests, however, may be aimed at the wrong place.
Though Russian Standard is manufactured in Russia, Stoli is produced by two separate companies, one of which is based in Russia and does not distribute in the U.S.
Last week, Stolichnaya CEO Val Medeleev, wrote an open letter condemning the recent laws and saying that though all Stoli is made from Russian ingredients, the brand which distributes Stoli in the U.S. and United Kingdom, in addition to 100 other countries, is privately owned by the Luxembourg-based SPI Group.
Since the controvery began, Stoli has put a statement on its website written in bold rainbow type that reads “Stolichnaya Premium Vodka stands strong & proud with the global LGBT community against the attitude & actions of the Russian government.”
According to the CIA website, vodka does not number among Russia's largest exports, which include, rather, petrolium, iron and fertilizers.