Stolichnaya pens open letter to appease LGBT communityBy Amy Hopkins
Stolichnaya vodka has penned an open letter to the LGBT community following worldwide calls for its products to be boycotted.
LGBT activists targeted the Russian vodka brand earlier this month in response to a recently passed law that bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors in Russia.
As a beverage that has become embedded in ideas of Russian national identity, vodka was selected by activists worldwide as a suitable product to boycott, with Stolichnaya and Russian Standard identified as particular targets.
The call-to-action was first issued by US writer Dan Savage, who asked the LGBT community to boycott the brands and “show solidarity” with Russian homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals.
On his blog, he wrote: “There is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities 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: dump Russian vodka.”
Savage also coined the hashtag #dumpstoli, which has since received backing from LGBT rights groups.
Stolichnaya has now responded by criticising Russia’s recent legislation. In an open letter to the LGBT community, Val Mendeleev, chief executive of SPI Group, said: “The recent dreadful actions taken by the Russian Government limiting the rights of the LGBT community and the passionate reaction of the community have prompted me to write this letter to you.
“I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry.
“Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference.”
“Upset and angry”
Mendeleev went on to cite ways in which the company had lent its support to the LGBT community over the years.
The geographic ties of the vodka were also addressed by Mendeleev who claimed that the brand is not controlled by the Russian government and that its headquarters are in Luxembourg.
He also stressed that while Stolichnaya is made from Russian ingredients, the bottling process takes place at its historic distillery Latvijas Balzams in Latvia.
The brand’s Facebook page now displays multi-coloured text reading: “Stolichnaya Premium Vodka stands strong and proud with the global LGBT community against the attitude and actions of the Russian government.”
Medeleev continued: “We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia.
“In the past decade. SPI has been actively advocating in favour 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.”