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Latvian gay group opposes Stoli boycott

Mozaika says vodka boycott will hurt them more than Russia

Mozaika's Facebook page. Credit: Facebook.com

Activist group Queer Nation responded to Latvian gay activists Aug 1, in a continued argument over whether to boycott Stolichnaya Vodka. 

Latvian gay group Mozaika says Stolichnaya is a Latvian vodka, and the boycott hurts them more than Russia. 

Queer Nation says because Stolichnaya markets itself as a Russian product, and because some production takes place in Russia, it should be included in the general boycott of Russian exports.

“The company claims to be friend to our community,” wrote Duncan Osborne and Andrew Miller of Queer Nation in a letter to Mozaika. “It was silent as the Russian government considered this horrific law, and it said nothing after the law was enacted. Stolichnaya only spoke up after the boycott was announced. Friends do not keep silent when those they claim to value are under attack.”

The boycott started when Dan Savage called on readers to dump Stolichnaya vodka in a protest against Russian anti-gay laws. 

CEO of SPI Group, Val Mendeleev, responded with a panicked letter explaining that SPI supported the gay community and that most of SPI’s production was in Latvia. 

That was not enough for Savage or other gay groups, such as Queer Nation, and gay bars across the world dumped Stolichnaya from their menus

Mendeleev, in a long interview with journalist Michelangelo Signorile, admitted that some of SPI’s operations were in Russia, but said that they constituted a “tiny” part of production, and pointed to his and SPI founder Yuri Scheffler’s decade old conflict with the Russian government. 

That’s when Latvian gay group Mozaika stepped in and begged for an end to the boycott, saying “this campaign will only harm Latvia, Latvia’s economy and employees of the company.”