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No point boycotting Russian vodka, says Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexseev

Dan Savage: Where was Stoli's CEO Val Mendeleev when anti-gay law was being passed?

Stolichnaya vodka.

Prominent Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexseev told Gay Star News he thinks there is “no point” boycotting Russian vodka. “The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever,” he said. “And what is the aim of this boycott? The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott, will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the state Duma.”

As the debate over a boycott of Russian vodka continues to heat up as more gay bars across North America are pulling the drink from their shelves. Five more bars in Chicagostopped serving Vodka July 25, joining at least two in San Francisco, and others in Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto.  

"I had been following the various news reports about what was going on in Russia," owner of Chicago gay bar Sidetrack, Art Johnston, told the Windy City Times. "It's hard to believe that they could carry out and enforce that kind of a law, but they did." Johnston says he can no longer in a good conscience sell Stolichnaya vodka at his bar, even though he says Stolichnaya importers have supported the gay community.

The makers of Stolichnaya vodka issued an open letter to the LGBT community July 25, pointing out its support for LGBT people. “As a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry,” wrote CEO Val Mendeleev. “Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.”

The Stolichnaya Vodka website now proclaims the company “stands strong and proud with the global LGBT community against attitude and actions of the Russian government.”

Dan Savage, one of the first promoters of the boycott, shot back in the Stranger: “Val says that Stoli is upset and angry. That's nice. So has Stoli said anything to the Russian authorities?… 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?”