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Thursday, July 25, 2013

DUMP STOLI: Well, We've Got Their Attention

Posted by on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 1:22 PM

The CEO of Stolichnaya Vodka released an open letter to the gay community today—so they're paying attention, which is good, and they're scared, which is even better. The letter:

LGBT_letter_from_Stoli-page-001.jpg

For the record: Regardless of where SPI Group's corporate offices are located, the company is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it's nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia? The group has sponsored gay pride events in Vienna and Miami. That's nice. But have they sponsored gay pride events in Moscow or St. Petersburg? Val says that Stoli is upset and angry. That's nice. So has Stoli said anything to the Russian authorities? Has Yuri Scheffler expressed his anger in an open letter to Vladimir Putin? Did the SPI Group speak the fuck up before the Russian government passed a law that made it a crime to be openly gay and a crime to publicly support someone who is openly gay? Frankly I'm not interested in Stoli's marketing efforts in the West. I'm interested in what this Russian-owned company is doing in Russia. And from this letter it's clear they've done and they only plan on doing squat.

Two commenters at JMG cut to the heart of the matter:

I guess the paragraph about how Stoli is going work toward demanding that the Russian Government end discrimination went missing.

Dear Russian Oligarch: You and your friends control your nation via your fortune and connections. Fix this or GTFO.

But this comment at JMG wins the thread:

So is the CEO of Stoli now subject to arrest and incarceration in Russia for writing this pro-gay letter?

DUMPRUSSIANVODKA_square_logo.jpg

 

Comments (99) RSS

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I Hate Screen Names 1
I dunno, it seems too much to boycott Stoli for not advocating for equality in Russia. There are lots and lots of American companies that do not advocate for equality in America, and no one is suggesting boycotting them. We reserve our wrath for companies that hinder equality (I'm looking at you, Chick-fil-A.)

I'm also not entirely comfortable punishing a Russian company for the actions of the Russian government. That seems a bit too close to painting nationalities with the same brush. I remember traveling in Europe when the U.S. invaded Iraq (the second time), and I was annoyed when others sought to hold me accountable for my government's stupid actions. Aren't we doing the same thing to Stoli?
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 25, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 2
maybe Yuri Scheffler doesn't "express his anger" to Vladimir Putin because he doesn't want to go to prison for the rest of his life on fabricated charges. They do that with uppity billionaires, you know.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 25, 2013 at 1:40 PM · Report this
3
barf @ usage of queer. beginning and end of discussion: it is a stupid word
Posted by six five on July 25, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
4
@1 I think the difference here is that Russia is very much an oligarchy of late, and targeting an oligarch is maybe a way to make a difference.

Speaking of Russian oligarchs, an awful lot of them don't spend a lot of time in Russia. You can find them in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Monte Carlo, dining out and enjoying the high life. Maybe that's where they need to be reminded that their influence back home is required.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on July 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
5
sure, this is fine but don't forget the most important thing is to boycott Utah. because California.
Posted by Ka.Li.For.Nia. on July 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM · Report this
6
I'm trying to read that but it's murdering my eyes. : (
Posted by Actionsquid on July 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
7
too bad that letter is unreadable....
Posted by virtuosobob on July 25, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
8
Please post a copy of the letter than can be read online? thx.
Posted by LikeItIs on July 25, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
9
@4: The reason many of them spend their time out of Russia is so they are beyond Putin's reach should he decide he wants their company or to put their ass in jail.

As Max notes in @2 the oligarchs in Russia really are in a different situation than the filthy rich in Europe and Russia. Donald Trump gets to make shit up about Obama. Say something like that about Putin and you get calls from your insurance company telling you they've cancelled your policy.
Posted by gnossos on July 25, 2013 at 2:07 PM · Report this
10
@9 Europe and *the US* dipshit
Posted by gnossos on July 25, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 11
@4: I guess I really don't know enough about the Russian political situation to know whether oligarchs have that kind of leverage. I was under the impression that, as @2 and @9 suggest, opposing Putin's government is politically and physically dangerous. Not sure what kind of "exemptions" apply to the very rich, or the monetary/political "cost" of those exemptions.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 25, 2013 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Ophian 12
@1, holding individual citizens accountable for stupid gov'ts is not effective. However, pressuring the moneyed interests of a country in order to create change is okay in my book. I would have had no problem if the world had closed their wallets to US based companies when we went into Iraq.

@3, I find "queer" to be a very useful word [as a Queer who is not a Gay]. I even kinda like it. But if we shouldn't use it, what is another monosyllabic noun/adjective that denotes the full rainbow of sexual minorities?
Posted by Ophian on July 25, 2013 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 13
I think I'll start holding The Stranger responsible for all of the (considerable) abuses by the United States government. That should make a big difference.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on July 25, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
14
12 - uhm howsabout GAY? or GLBT/LGBT? In this case Russia is persecuting gay relationships, gay behavior. I understand we have to be the biggest tent in the land to cover every freak and geek who isn't straight male or female, but come on. Also I'm guessing this is an international social media campaign, in which queer will be read and decoded by scores of people who don't "get" that we have ~~~r e c l a i m e d~~ it.

Anyway. I shouldn't have brought it up. It is a flop word on a flop boy cot
Posted by six five on July 25, 2013 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 15
Keep up the pressure. These guys are the only hope to reverse the oppression and money is the only thing they understand. Boycott Stoli!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 25, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 16
Oh, and to those who can't read it try Ctrl+
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 25, 2013 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 17
Boycotts are what ended apartheid.

Drink local. They make vodka in Seattle too.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on July 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 18
@17 Right you are!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 25, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
seandr 19
Stoli doesn't have anywhere near enough economic or political power to sway Putin.

It's owned by billionaire, Yuri Scheffler, you say? Big deal. Yuri wouldn't be the first billionaire to end up in jail. In fact, he wouldn't even be the second. Putin silences his critics, regardless of how much money they have.

Is there anything that might actually make a difference for Russian GLBTQs? Given that Russia has been subject to brutal, autocratic rule for almost all of its history, political asylum is the only thing I can think of.
Posted by seandr on July 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 20
Give Stoli a pass. Russia is a dangerous country for dissent. Being an oligarch in only possible if you have the favor of Putin and his cronies. People that fall out of favor do not last long. Take Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Yukos. At one point he was the 16th richest man in the world and controlled the oil company Yukos.

Then he became a critic of Putin. After being hit with a "tax reassessment" for $27 billion he was imprisoned and Yukos was taken over by Putin cronies.

It doesn't matter that Yuri Scheffler is one of the 100 richest men in Russia, if he crosses Putin he will be crushed.
Posted by unknown_entity on July 25, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
seandr 21
@Brooklyn Reader: Russia is very much an oligarchy of late

No. Putin alone is calling the shots over there.
Posted by seandr on July 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 22
I still haven't found anything indicating that Yuri Sheffler lives in Russia. That 2006 article I found last night indicated that he was in Switzerland because he faced arrest in Russia. I found nothing stating where he lives today, or whether he is no longer facing arrest in Russia (although it would seem he isn't - pithy "winning" JMG comment aside - since the Stoli brand case was finally settled.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 23
In case people are still looking for a clearer version, Queerty typed it out: http://www.queerty.com/read-an-open-lett…
Posted by ScienceNerd http://stanichium.tumblr.com/ on July 25, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
24
I think at the least boycotting will mean your money doesn't go to Russia. Whether or not Stoli takes on the government is secondary, just try to send less money to Russia, and feel free to tell anyone who will listen why you're making that choice. What will that accomplish? Maybe nothing, but at least they won't be using your money to kill LGBT & their allied people.
Posted by Suzy Greenberg on July 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM · Report this
seandr 25
@22: Yup, looks like Yuri Sheffler is already on the list of billionaires who have been arrested or charged with an arrest warrant by Putin.

If you believe Yuri Sheffler could convince Putin of anything, you should read this. I'm sure Putin would enjoy sending his troops back to SPI headquarters to "restore and protect the exclusive rights of the Russian Federation."
Posted by seandr on July 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
26
Stoli is scared? Shouldn't your target be Putin you stupid American piece of shit? He is what we have to deal with. You fucking scumbag scared stupid American scum.
Posted by andrewi31 on July 25, 2013 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 27
As conservative Republican Presidential candidate, and gay rights advocate, Barry Goldwater once said, "Let's lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin".

http://www.bluenc.com/barry-goldwater-re…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on July 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 28
Hey, techies! Will someone tell me if the newly registered troll @ 26 is posting from Russia? I'm curious.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
29
@26, if that nazi Putin wants to sell me something, well then I'd boycott that too.
Posted by GermanSausage on July 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this
30
This is getting absurd Dan. They've quite literally shown time and again that they are supporters of LGTBQ people and communities. Your fantasy that a BUSINESS (note how they're not a non-profit or advocacy group) is the best advocate on a social issue is simply mind boggling. It is a sad state indeed when instead of encouraging people to donate to pro-gay groups that are persecuted in Russia you're spending time trying to convince the owner of a vodka company to take on the Kremlin, which wouldn't hesitate to chuck him in jail. This is just a big waste of time. It would be like boycotting Microsoft products to try and get Bill Gates to give Obama a call.
Posted by VODKA on July 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
srooks 31
The Stoli story is much more complicated than is being implied here. The Stolichnaya made inside Russia (by a different company, not SPI Group) is, as far as the Russian government is concerned, the REAL Stolichnaya and the SPI Group's Stolichnaya a "stolen" brand mark. In 2012, the Russian company making Stolichnaya successfully sued in New York and the Netherlands, which is why SPI-Group's Stolichnaya vodka is now labelled "Premium Vodka" instead of "Russian Vodka" even though SPI-Group uses ingredients produced in Russia (through subsidiary companies they own... again not associated with the Russian brand).

SPI-Group is majority owned by Yuri Scheffler, a Russian national, so, in that sense, it is a "Russian" company, but is not recognized by the Russian government as the rightful legal owner of the Stolichnaya brand (anything else would be "counterfeit" in their eyes). I actually had a kind of fun time doing some research on this since there is lots and lots of drama and intrigue involved... including death threats, raids by the armed forces, etc. I'm somewhat mixed on boycotting the SPI-Group Stolichnaya in as much as the Russian government would actually probably love to see the brand hurt and it has no affect on the Russian Stolichnaya. And the SPI-Group is generally supportive of LGBT rights around the world, though the cynical side of me also acknowledges that there is a compelling business interest in doing so on their part.

I provide a little more detail over at http://www.facebook.com/SayNyet
Posted by srooks http://www.rooxilist.com on July 25, 2013 at 3:54 PM · Report this
32
You don't have to boycott anyone -- just buy this great vodka made in Everett, Washington
http://www.bluewaterdistilling.com

Btw, I have no financial connection, not an expert on vodka but I like the Blue Watere stuff.
Posted by David Sucher on July 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
33
ferver over, dog.

this boycott reeks of narcissism.
Posted by fetish on July 25, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
34
We boycotted Coors when Joseph Coors and the Heritage Foundation went after us.

We boycotted Red Stripe when LGBT Activists Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey were mutilated and murdered in Jamaica.

WTF are we even debating this while gay youth are kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Russia?
Posted by DrSBaumanSF on July 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM · Report this
35
We boycotted Coors when Joseph Coors and the Heritage Foundation went after us.

We boycotted Red Stripe when LGBT Activists Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey were mutilated and murdered in Jamaica.

WTF are we even debating Stoli & Russian Standard while LGBT youth are kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Russia?
Posted by DrSBaumanSF on July 25, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
raindrop 36
I envision Vladimir Putin and Anita Bryant are toasting each other with screwdrivers at this very moment.
Posted by raindrop on July 25, 2013 at 4:13 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 37
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?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 38
I'm fine with using Stoli as a symbol. Plenty of time to evolve it, and I'm sure Dan's quite capable. Already there's more attention being paid, so the fact of it working a little is way better than nothing.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
Ophian 39
@14, "I understand we have to be the biggest tent in the land to cover every freak and geek who isn't straight male or female, but come on."

I don't think you do understand. I asked, "what is another monosyllabic noun/adjective that denotes the full rainbow of sexual minorities?"

You answered, "uhm howsabout GAY? or GLBT/LGBT?"

The first is not inclusive [neither I nor gay people consider me GAY], the second is cumbersome [unless morphed into legbutt which is just silly], and arguably not fully inclusive without the whole alphabet soup tacked on.

If you are going to object to queer because you don't think it has been reappropriated, or you just don't like it, what is a better, succinct and inclusive word to use?

Otherwise I'll just stick with queer, thanks.
Posted by Ophian on July 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
40
The problem with the boycott idea is that a) targeting Stoli (as numerous people have pointed out) is misguided because they are NOT a Russian company and ARE supporters of gay rights and b) even if they were Russian and not friends there is nothing they could do to influence Putin.

If you want to get Putin's attention, the Olympics is the route. Putin is a small-minded, petty, thin-skinned popinjay. And he is unbelievably focused on the Olympics. It is pet project and he is obsessed with them. I don't know whether boycotting them or disrupting them (or hoping that there is no fucking snow) is the answer, but I do know that that will get his attention far more than any (even effective) boycott of vodka will.
Posted by gnossos on July 25, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
41
#30, "Stoli supports LGBTQ communities"

That's the same thing the film company that gave Orson Scott Card all that money says.

It's a load of PR bullshit.
Posted by GermanSausage on July 25, 2013 at 4:44 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 42
@38
That's a chilling statement...
If there is anything the gay community should shun it is "using" others as "symbols" for political purposes. God knows we've been on the receiving end of that enough times to know better.

Just to recap:

Dan proposes we punish a pro gay Latvian company owned by a Russian expat (living outside of Russia probably because Putin wants him arrested) and using a brand name that the Kremlin insists that it owns and is being used by this company illegally. And we are to do this in retaliation against Putin's anti gay policies. Policies which the company in question (and therefore its owner) have been violating, and continue to violate, by supporting the gay community.

Who's bidding would we really be doing by damaging Stoli or its owner?
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 25, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Frank Blethen's vodka distiller 43
Dump Stoli?

So that explains what Frank Blethen was lapping up from the gutter.
Posted by Frank Blethen's vodka distiller on July 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 44
Dan, If you want to make a difference, bring the full force of gaydom to bear on Obama until he bans the import of Russian oil. Or... Use your gay super powers to persuade him to boycott the Olympics.

If Obama won't take your calls, organize a boycott of all Olympic sponsors/advertisers and a media/press campaign linking them directly to homophobic Russia. Cola cola, visa and GE won't like that. Chick-fil-a wont give a shit.

Kicking a Latvian company that's already on Putin's "enemies list" in the nuts just seems ridiculous and poorly thought out.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 25, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this
45
Diesel bar in Seattle has pulled all Stoli products, along with all Russian liquors from their shelves, and I applaud them!
Posted by BikerBearWA on July 25, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this
BEG 46
Here you can find a translation of one of the video clips showing an LGBT youth being bullied & more -- translation by Sai:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/103112149634…

Fuckety fuck.
Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on July 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 47
@42, gay people using symbols to try to rescue each other is chilling? Nah, chilling is what's happening in Russia to we who happen to be LGBTQ.

And what's happening to Stoli as a result of being used to kick off a campaign? I don't think it's chilling. I think it's going to wind up a small write-down, to be described in a footnote to their next quarter's earnings report. If we're lucky it will be called something like "a temporary single-digit percentage drop in sales expected to be reversed thanks to our corporate PR, lobbying and advertising campaign begun to pressure Russia to reverse its antiqueer laws."

That isn't chilling, it's warming.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 25, 2013 at 6:12 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 48
Quoth @12:
"I would have had no problem if the world had closed their wallets to US based companies when we went into Iraq."
While it's magnanimous to offer impersonal "US based companies" to sate the world's outrage, that's not the relevant question. Would you have a problem if your livelihood were affected?

Say the U.S. government does something stupid again, the world is outraged, and as a result of boycotts triggered by that outrage, your pay is cut 20%. Or you're laid off altogether. Would that be fair?
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 25, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
49
As I read the letter on Queerty (thanks, ScienceNerd), if this boycott scares anyone, it will scare Luxembourg and Latvia.

Russia won't even notice.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on July 25, 2013 at 6:42 PM · Report this
Ophian 50
IHSN @48, I was laid off from working in residential construction when the housing market evaporated due to the wrecklessness of the powers that be, so I think I can realistically imagine your scenario.

Would I have a problem? Yes, I'd be out of a job.

Would I be mad at individuals or organizations who were boycotting? No. I'd be fucking pissed at the morons who were persisting on lighting a country on fire, with no actual cause or hope of success, and a good portion of the world in opposition.

I mean, boycotts are meant to mess things up a bit, create discomfort, magnify pressure. The next time our government has an equivalently brilliant plan, I hope to god the international community pulls out all the stops until the US has to put its dick back in its pants and go home. I'd rather look for work than see us start another such senseless mess.
Posted by Ophian on July 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
51
gawd our little danny is stupid
Posted by DEMAND THAT OBAMA BOYCOTT THE OLYMPICS, PUSSY on July 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this
52
wow

russia wages a pogrom against homosexuals and boycotting a booze company is the best danny can cum up with?

lame.

"accessory to genocide after the fact" lame.

DEMAND OBAMA BOYCOTT THE OLYMPICS.

pussy.
Posted by the Utah Boycock on July 25, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Report this
53
even a limp noodle like carter found the stones to boycott moscow's olympics......
Posted by DANNY ENJOYS BEING PUTIN'S BOTTOM on July 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 54
@50: Yeah, that was another instance where the U.S. royally fucked up. Funny how the "little people" get squished while the big shots play their game of thrones. (I just wanted to make that reference.)

Anyway, perhaps you're OK with being collateral damage so long as the U.S. stopped doing stupid shit. Maybe you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs. But.. BUT... whenever you're unfairly punishing someone for someone else's misconduct, you need to be really sure that sticking it to an uninvolved party is the best way to exert pressure. Otherwise you're like those American thugs who went out after 9/11 and beat up anyone in a turban.

I'm not remotely convinced that's the case here. It sounds like 1) Stoli has a contentious relationship with Russia anyway and 2) that "putting pressure" on Putin from within Russia is a swift ticket to a gulag. So this boycott doesn't hurt Russia and demands (frankly) heroic measures from Stoli. Is this really the best we can do?
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 25, 2013 at 7:38 PM · Report this
55
First and foremost we should be asking the Russian activists what they think will work. My own take is that Putin is so not going to care about this. I lived in Eastern Europe for several years and the reality is that there is a lot of political capitol to be had with a conservative base in bashing Western culture and lgbt acceptance currently symbolizes that. Also having everybody see the thugs doing what they do at demonstrations and the punitive laws against lgbt not so subtle reminder to the Russian people as a whole not to count on pushing other social issues.

The Olympics might get to him, but this no. Unfortunately think boycotting Stoli will just come across outside our borders as unsophisticated and possibly bullying. But I may be way off base and again I'd defer to Russian activists on this.
Posted by LaurieW on July 25, 2013 at 7:43 PM · Report this
56
55

excellent point.

when danny called for a boycott of utah after prop 8 gay activists there were livid, pointing out that a boycott would most hurt the homosexual community.

Posted by with fiends like danny who needs enemies? on July 25, 2013 at 7:59 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 57
@54, it is not the best we can do ever. But I believe it's the best we can do to get it started and keep momentum.

Nobody is stupid who is involved in this. if you don't think they're planning a better next move, hang in there and see.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 58
@47
Using someone as a symbol of something they are not for the sake of political expediency is chilling, dishonest, unnecssary and beneath us.

The idea that the ends justify the means, any means, is not just immoral but lazy. Especially when there are so many just means available to the cause.

1.) Convince Obama to ban the import of Russian oil.
2.) Convince Obama to boycott the Olympics.
3.) Boycott and label Olympic sponsors and advertisers as homophobic after giving them fair warning that you will do so.
4.) Boycott RUSSIAN company's with bad records on gay rights.
5.) Push the State Department to give political asylum to gay Russians.

Any and all of these options have more dignity and honesty (and will be more effective) than smearing a LATVIAN company that supports gay causes as homophobic as a means to pressure the RUSSIAN government. (Regardless of the fact that doing so will be completely ineffective because the company in question is already under attack from the Russian government, who would like to see it out of business themselves).

Changing your vodka from LATVIAN to SWEDISH so you can feel good and thinking you've made a difference in RUSSIA is not only lazy but ignorant.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 26, 2013 at 2:26 AM · Report this
59
47

sure.

often The truth is collateral damage when True Believers are doing what they think is in the best interest of The Cause.

so what if fundies use homosexual men as symbols of pedophilia?
just a single digit footnote in the Arc of Justice.

Right?

asshole......
Posted by you are despicable, even for a HomoLiberal Fascists.... on July 26, 2013 at 5:07 AM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 60
@57: I suppose I'm not so cavalier about fucking over innocent bystanders to make a point. Like many liberals, I'm a member of a historically persecuted group, and thus expedient scapegoating does not sit well with me.

I confess this whole Stoli issue has been somewhat disillusioning. Ah, well.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on July 26, 2013 at 6:53 AM · Report this
61
So many motives to boycott Stoli! I'll do that till they free the Pussy Riot girls!
Posted by Edu Ottoni on July 26, 2013 at 7:46 AM · Report this
James6 62
Stoli can't have it both ways: both playing off its (possibly dubious) Russian connections and denying them. But Stoli can solve its problem: it can officially cut all its ties with Russia, become a European vodka, and make real efforts to support gay rights. Meanwhile, the threat of a boycott is clearly having a real-world effect, which is that Russian (or seemingly Russian) companies are taking notice. That is a good thing.
Posted by James6 on July 26, 2013 at 7:56 AM · Report this
seishin17 63
@60: I agree wholeheartedly. This misguided crusade reeks of narcissism and I don't understand its point. Sure, we're talking about it, but the thing that keeps bothering me about the way Dan Savage is using this is "where does it end"?
As #34 mentioned, there's Jamaica. If we work on the same lines, why not just boycott all Jamaican products?
Why not boycott all Chinese products?
This campaign is foolish and I hope for its quick demise.
Posted by seishin17 http://seishin17.blogspot.com on July 26, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 64
@59

As a gay man, fundies calouse use of me and my brethren as symbols of pedopilia (and oh so many other evils) for thier political convenience and expedience is exactly why I will not use those tactics against anyone. I think it's despicable to falsely accuse and lie about people or organizations.

I'm better than that. I would like to think that as a community we are better than that. I'm sorry you are not better than that.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 65
@59
Oops... Sorry. Read your post exactly wrong. I need to remember not to slog before coffee.
Never mind...
:-/
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
66
Target a gay-friendly owner and his company because he's not doing "enough" to end abuses against gays in the owner's country. That makes sense. Talk about fickle: we love you we love you we love you, but now that you're doing nothing differently we hate you. I'm sorry but you don't fuck over your friends, just because you suddenly feel that the support they give you isn't supportive enough. If we would like Stoli to no longer support gay rights causes and help fund Pride events, by all means continue this misguided attempt to effect change. It just wrong to treat our allies worse than we treat our enemies.
Posted by Grrrwlr on July 26, 2013 at 10:27 AM · Report this
67
Are there any vodka brands that don't support LGBT events. No. Boycott all Russian products. And don't tell me about how it is produced on Latvia, I haven't researched that country on gay rights, but I'm not expecting to be impressed when I do.
Posted by jeffy on July 26, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this
68
Here are the top ten corporate sponsors of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Let them know you’re concerned about human rights in Russia and the attacks on LGBT people and women.

Coca-Cola
http://www.coca-colacompany.com/contact-…

Atos
http://atos.net/en-us/home/contact-us.ht…

Dow
http://www.dow.com/company/contact/

GE
http://www.ge.com/contact/general

McDonalds
http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/contact_u…

Omega
https://ccm.omegawatches.com/en/

Panasonic
http://www.panasonic.com/business-soluti…

PG
http://www.pg.com/en_US/contact_us/index…

Samsung
https://www.samsung.com/us/support/conta…
#
Visa
https://corporate.visa.com/utility/conta…
Posted by KentLW on July 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
69
This does clear up that they do get their "wheat, rye, and raw alcohol" from Russia, in the article, then add water and bottle it in Latvia. So the boycott may force them to find a different source for their raw materials, at least. The taxes on those exports line Putin's pockets, so even if the owner of the brand doesn't have that much pull, boycotting this and other Russian vodkas may hit Putin in the wallet, and be part of a greater public shaming effort by all, leading more companies to pull their money out of Russia for fear of being next.
Posted by firelizard19 on July 26, 2013 at 11:12 AM · Report this
70
1. It is naive to believe that a corporation who leverages a key demographic supports that demographic's cause. I would lay good odds that the budget being dinged for that campaign inside Stoli is the Marketing budget, not the Corporate Responsibility budget.
2. While Stoli is called out, it is not the only brand being boycotted.
3. Boycotts by their nature, bring attention to an issue in a way that simply saying, "no stop it" won't.
4. Boycotts have a cascading affect over time. I won't be visiting Russian anytime soon and spending my tourist dollars there (and, yes, I was considering a visit in the next couple of years). I'm probably not the only DINK who will make that decision.
5. Boycotts bring to light other groups (The Russian Orthodox church comes to mind) who may be involved in influencing decisions within Russia and puts pressure on them to stop.

Boycotts are not perfect, but they are better than the alternative.
Posted by lucyboots on July 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
Ophian 71
Somewhat off topic, but a bit of the brighter side when discussing homophobic countries:

"The retired archbishop [Tutu] was speaking at the launch of a UN-backed campaign in South Africa to promote gay rights."

I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town.

I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-2…
Posted by Ophian on July 26, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
toyotabedzrock 72
The owner could be embarrassed big time in Russia by his ownership.
Posted by toyotabedzrock http://https://plus.google.com/+JimFeig/posts on July 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
toyotabedzrock 73
Also please look at this link. This might make it more clear why we have to do something about Russia http://www.spectrumhr.org/hot-news-1/rus…
Posted by toyotabedzrock http://https://plus.google.com/+JimFeig/posts on July 26, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
74
BOYCOTT KRAFT RUSSIAN DRESSING!!!

Of course not. That's asinine. Makes about as much sense as Congress putting Freedom Fries on their lunch menu. People are upset about the situation in Russia (legitimately) but doing something irrational and unproductive won't help. It now appears that a Stoli Boycott will do more to hurt LGBT communities than make any changes in Russian public and political opinions. And for the record, I don't approve boycotting the Sochi Olympics either.

But what would have an effect is to contact NBC and our elected representatives and demand they pressure Putin's Government to protect their LGBT citizens. Sadly, that's probably too much work for many folks - much easier to switch vodkas

http://www.advocate.com/politics/2013/07…
Posted by DrSBaumanSF on July 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM · Report this
75
Just to point out, while we're at it, maybe we should target InBev, headquarted in Missouri. You know, huge American company, takes over smaller companies, makes dubious beers, is largely despised and also, is headquarted in a place which had to remove consensual sodomy as a sexual offense in the first degree quite recently and to this day provides nothing resembling full recognition of the rights of gay and lesbian couples. Seems like the logic of hitting people where it hurts via boycotts could in this instance work very well to move pretty retrograde politics pretty close to home.
Posted by drunkard on July 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
76
Vodka is gross anyway. Drink gin!
Posted by Ok fine Brisdkjhlkian on July 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
77
Hi, Dan. Here are some vodkas other than Stolichnaya that are made in Russia and sold internationally. There are several other Russian vodkas, but they are only for domestic consumption and not listed here.

Gold Symphony
Hrenovuha
Kauffman
Moskovskaya
Narodnaya
Pyatizvyozdnaya
Putinka
Rodnik
Ruskova
Russian Standard
Shustov
Stolnaya
Youri Dolgoruki
Posted by Doug Hicton on July 27, 2013 at 3:15 AM · Report this
78
Dan Savage is -woefully- off the mark with this post and the "dump Stoli" stuff, which perhaps illustrates the risks of well-intentioned but poorly-informed foreigners wading into Russian politics.

To recap:

- the Stolichnaya sold by SPI Group is not Russian vodka

- SPI Group is not a Russian company, but a Luxembourg one

- SPI's Stolichnaya is made in Latvia, not Russia

- SPI has sponsored gay events and criticized the homophobic legislation and practices in Russia

- Yuri Shefler could write as many letters as he likes to Putin, but it's not going to change anything, because Putin's government has spent the last decade trying to seize SPI's business and imprison Shefler over the dodgy privatisation of Stolichnaya.

All of this stuff is well-discussed (even in English) across the Internet and ten minutes' research coud have turned it up.
Posted by Anonononymous Coward on July 27, 2013 at 4:02 AM · Report this
79
Wow. Dan Savage is getting senile and politically ossified. Guess he caught something doing all that ass kissing at the White House.

The Stoli we drink in the US is made by Latvian companies that have no relationship to Russia, which seized Stoli plants on Russian soil when Latvia became independent.

It's funny that Savage is such an empty noggin. I bet he didn't criticize Beyonce or J Lo when they accepted million dollar fees from actual bloody dictators to perform for their birthdays.

Please get rid of this social climbing, Obama felching fascist twit, who doesn't care about violations of the Bill of Rights or droning little brown kids to death as long as Obama says something nice about gay marriage - but only after everyone else has done the legal work to have it achieved.
Posted by BruceZMajors on July 27, 2013 at 4:34 AM · Report this
80
By the way Dan, how much do Absolut and Grey Goose pay you? How much advertising do they do in your papers?
Posted by BruceZMajors on July 27, 2013 at 4:48 AM · Report this
81
Savage - you're a columnist / commentariat. Do some research. Imported booze involves (a) the company that makes it, (b) the US affiliate / subsidiary and/or (c) a distributor -- an independent company. USA distributor of Stoli is an NYC pro-gay company, the international owner of the Stoli brand SPI is pro-gay in many countries and neutral elsewhere. Very little money from a Stoli purchase goes to Russia and zero to anti-gay causes.

Compare that to Coke, which is partly owned by the Mormon church, where stock dividends / share increases directly go to the church and to anti-gay causes right here in USA.

Wake up. Boycott the Olympics like Fierstein said. The anti-Stoli thing is stupid and just kicking in the teeth the US employees of a company that's gone out of its way not just to advertise to gay men but to fund gay pride worldwide.
Posted by delta35 on July 27, 2013 at 7:33 AM · Report this
82
The rights to the brandname will go back to the Government of Russia in 2014. There was a court ruling in Moscow in 2002. So we have only five months to bicker over this :-)
Posted by yoonzena on July 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM · Report this
83
The rights to the brandname will go back to the Government of Russian in 2014. There was a court ruling in Moscow in 2002. So we have only 5 months to bicker over this :-)
Posted by yoonzena on July 27, 2013 at 11:17 AM · Report this
84
I actually think that the vodka boycott is a good idea, because it gets attention. However, it is unrealistic to expect that the owner of Stoli (or any other oligarch, no matter how liberal or pro-civil-rights) will complain to Putin.

All these oligarchs, without exception, broke countless laws in the 90's, when they accumulated their wealth. Putin's government has the records. When Putin came to power, he made a deal with the oligarchs that as long as they keep quiet, he won't go after them. But the moment one of them becomes annoying, Putin doesn't hesitate to pull out all the old transgressions and put the troublesome oligarch in jail.

On the other hand, the line between government and business in Russia is rather blurry. You can bet that Putin, and other members of government, have a stake in major Russian companies. Something minor like a vodka boycott isn't likely to bother them too much by itself, but these things can add up.
Posted by Against fascism in Russia on July 27, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
85
@75 InBev is a Belgian company, it bought a Brazilian company, and Anheuser-Busch.

Boycotts are a powerful tool that can be used to bring about social change. However, as many have pointed out, Stoli is Latvian, their owner an ex-pat on Putin's shit list, and Russia has a nasty habit of jailing billionaires and stealing their companies. I think the fact that the CEO of Stoli bothered to write a letter is nothing to sneeze at (yes I know pr wrote it but whatever, he put his name to it so close enough). He didn't cover up that they use Russian wheat/other ingredients, and he reaffirmed that Stoli supports LGBT freedom. Continuing to insist on a boycott seems a little counterproductive in this case. It would be more effective to impress upon Stoli AND other companies that buying ingredients from Russia supports an oppressive regime. Obviously Stoli has contracts in place but wheat generally runs on calendar year so pressure them to book with Romania or such next year. I don't know enough about vodka making to know if Russian wheat has particular properties that are different from Romanian or other growing areas but if so--January is 5 months away and Stoli has time to tweak their formulation to accommodate any minor differences.

I think making things uncomfortable for the Olympic committee, sponsors, and athletes is a more effective approach. Pressure them to take up the cause, make statements, wear rainbow jackets, whatever--but it needs to be a unified effort from many sponsors and athletes from around the globe. The Olympics is a world stage--much more opportunity to shine a spotlight on Putin's psycho ass than a movement isolated to the US/LGBT (and supporters) community.
Posted by jujubee80 on July 28, 2013 at 7:06 AM · Report this
86
Call it an integrity test: Will Dan Savage now admit that he fucked up by calling for a boycott of a product made in Latvia and by a company headed by someone who is an opponent of the Russian regime? Or is Dan just a minstrel who's all about calling attention to himself?
Posted by Noicons on July 28, 2013 at 11:18 AM · Report this
87
I don't understand singling out a company for something the Russian government is doing. Should Ford be held responsible for what the U.S. government does? Should you be held responsible for what your relative does?
Posted by longklaw on July 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
88
Russia has invested BILLIONS in to the Sochi Olympics and Putin was even mad that the costs were more than he wanted. This is a big deal and he is hoping to make that money back. The Olympics is where you boycott. They have spent so much money getting that thing together and some people even lost their homes, google it.

You want to hurt Putin this up coming Olympics is where you do it, but it will be a hard one to do. But if one aids in taking some of that money out of Putins pocket as he hopes to make a pretty penny off of it that is what you do. Or you go, where you pride ribbon and if any Russians get out of line with you because you are gay, it will be filmed for the world to see.

The thing is to get that money out of Putin's little grimy hands. That is going to be hard. This midget poses shirtless like he is actually gay and perhaps people should go to Russia to help Putina come " out of his little 5 foot 7 closet" he is that short . The fish he just caught as the press is going wild with add two more of those fish and they would be taller than him!

Posted by Putin's Esmeralda on July 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
89
Creating Sochi Olympic site comes at high cost for local residents
Commentary: Officials ignore pleas of residents whose homes are damaged by landslides.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/glo…
Posted by Putin's Esmeralda on July 29, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
90
As the owner of a gay bar I have been conflicted by this. First I respect Dan and have been a fan for a couple decades. When he says something it is worth paying attention to. I did remove Stoli products from our shelves this weekend. My own research has made it clear that though Stoli may be bottled in Latvia and headquartered in Europe, its raw ingredients come from Russia. It is clearly a Russian product.
It is also clear that Yuri Scheffler is a friend to the LGBT community and a definitive enemy of Vladimir Putin and his government. You might call SPI's support "marketing" and it is easy to dismiss as pandering, but they have been more visible and supportive in the LGBT community than ANY other brand of liquor.
I believe this corporation may be the best source of direct support in LGBT Russia. By harming the brand we may be indirectly harming the battered LGBT community in Russia. If a limited boycott persuades SPI to try harder, then it is well worth it. I do not however, believe that they deserve a long term boycott ala Coors or the GOP as they have been much more supportive to the LGBT community than either of those entities.
Posted by JaxSD on July 30, 2013 at 4:22 AM · Report this
91
I really don't understand this at all. Although I understand the "symbolic" idea of boycotting Russian Vodka, this entire idea to me is absolutely absurd. First and foremost, it's a relatively common stereotype from the far right that we LGBTQetc individuals often drink heavily at bars and clubs, then hook up with some stranger to go about our deviant sexual life. That said, isn't specifically boycotting spirits sending a sort of wrong message? Post #34 is a good example of why that stereotype exists; boycotting beers and now vodka? Really?

I mean, come on. It wouldn't be such a big deal to me if there was a call for general boycott of Russian exports; but no, a single item is singled out and a single company is picked out of all manufacturers to exemplify the group.

In addition, as many others have pointed out, the economic impacts of this boycott will be minimal and it isn't just Putin that dislikes gays; I'm not sure if people are aware that the general public is not particularly supportive of homosexuality either. This isn't some dictator just forcing his own personal opinion down people's throats, it is popular opinion in much of Russia.

If I were Mr. Savage, I would be calling for a boycott of all petroleum products. Not only is a large amount of oil sourced in Russia, but even larger amounts are sourced in even more LGBT enemy states, such as other CIS states that hold similar views to Russia, as well as the Arab world, and places like Texas where a large amount of oil is unloaded and refined. Oh, and it would also obviously have the benefit of lowering carbon dioxide, sulfur and other chemical emissions from the use of petrochemicals. I suppose we can give up vodka by switching to some other distilled beverage, but we don't care enough about the suffering and torment of those in other nations to ride a bike or take a train instead of fill up at the pump while complaining about gas prices or to use less plastics and other petrochemicals.
More...
Posted by Jonathan Farnham on July 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM · Report this
92
I really don't understand this at all. Although I understand the "symbolic" idea of boycotting Russian Vodka, this entire idea to me is absolutely absurd. First and foremost, it's a relatively common stereotype from the far right that we LGBTQetc individuals often drink heavily at bars and clubs, then hook up with some stranger to go about our deviant sexual life. That said, isn't specifically boycotting spirits sending a sort of wrong message? Post #34 is a good example of why that stereotype exists; boycotting beers and now vodka? Really?

I mean, come on. It wouldn't be such a big deal to me if there was a call for general boycott of Russian exports; but no, a single item is singled out and a single company is picked out of all manufacturers to exemplify the group.

In addition, as many others have pointed out, the economic impacts of this boycott will be minimal and it isn't just Putin that dislikes gays; I'm not sure if people are aware that the general public is not particularly supportive of homosexuality either. This isn't some dictator just forcing his own personal opinion down people's throats, it is popular opinion in much of Russia.

If I were Mr. Savage, I would be calling for a boycott of all petroleum products. Not only is a large amount of oil sourced in Russia, but even larger amounts are sourced in even more LGBT enemy states, such as other CIS states that hold similar views to Russia, as well as the Arab world, and places like Texas where a large amount of oil is unloaded and refined. Oh, and it would also obviously have the benefit of lowering carbon dioxide, sulfur and other chemical emissions from the use of petrochemicals. I suppose we can give up vodka by switching to some other distilled beverage, but we don't care enough about the suffering and torment of those in other nations to ride a bike or take a train instead of fill up at the pump while complaining about gas prices or to use less plastics and other petrochemicals.
More...
Posted by Jonathan Farnham on July 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM · Report this
93
Stoli is not anti-gay at all.
They are now even barely Russian.

View from Belarus:
http://fantasystockings.com/stoli-russia…
Posted by Jessica Blogger on July 31, 2013 at 12:19 AM · Report this
94
Attempting to protest Russian government policy on LGBT rights by banning a Russian beverage manufacturer that produces vodka partly in Latvia, is like trying to protest the Obama administration's treatment of whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden, by banning Canadian beer.
Posted by dainiswmichel on August 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
95
Or how about this: How about a French journalist hold Coca-Cola accountable for the US gov's treatment of Snowden?

#DumpCocaCola -- until the US gov drops all charges against both Manning and Snowden.

Posted by dainiswmichel on August 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM · Report this
96
This whole protest is idiotic and very misinformed. Yuri Scheffler is a Russian living in exile because Putin was trying to seize the company. The company is no longer in Russia. You are actually hurting the country of Lativa. Nice work.

http://brightestyoungthings.com/articles…
Posted by diller on August 6, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
97
So the owner is an ex-pat living in exile in Switzerland for supporting Putin's opposition, and the CEO is a son of Soviet era dissidents, who protested the Soviet regime in the 70's and 80's. I suppose they could do more, but what have any of you done on the same risk plane? Sorry, but this is beyond idiotic.
Posted by Outraged-by-stupidity on August 9, 2013 at 4:18 AM · Report this
98
Maybe Yuri is coming to pay us a visit. His superyacht "Serene" is docking in Seattle within the hour. You can see it off Discovery Park right now.
Posted by bentsauce on August 18, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Report this
99
You guys don't get it. Putin has made it clear in the past, Russian business men can keep their money, as long as they don't meddle in politics. Those who didn't comply have been made examples off. Trumped up charges, assets frozen and life imprisonment. This is most Stoli can do.
Posted by pensw on February 6, 2014 at 1:56 AM · Report this

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