For months, Truth Wins Out has been in the forefront of criticizing the police state of Russia and its neo-czar Vladimir Putin. This nation has a long history of bigotry, violence, authoritarianism and intolerance. Thousands of Jews — such as those in my family — once fled Russia because of bloody pogroms. Now this nation is on a barbarous crusade to humiliate and legislate against LGBT people. Make no mistake, this is becoming a pogrom against homosexuals — which we will dub the “Hogroms.”
We must not allow this to stand. We must fight back with everything we’ve got.
BuzzFeed Matt Stopera has a terrifying article that succinctly lays out the violence and persecution currently faced by LGBT people in Russia. Here is an example of the terrorism faced by LGBT teens who are hunted and tortured by neo-Nazis. The Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers has more on the deterioration of LGBT rights in Russia.
Here is what I wrote about Russia’s descent into madness and mayhem on July 5:
“…look at the downward spiral of Russia since it has embraced religious fundamentalism. It has become a third-rate hellhole ruled by the iron fist of Vladimir Putin, who can best be described as a KGB operative masquerading as a Christian. This failed entity called Russia, has become a terror zone for LGBT people and the entire citizenry has lost its basic freedom, with political opponents routinely arrested and persecuted. Not only should Putin be opposed — but this illegitimate dictator thug should be deposed. (It is almost a sick joke that the Winter Olympics will be held in this police state, giving Putin a rare opportunity to whitewash the disturbing reality of modern Russia)”
Today, Truth Wins Out asks its supporters to boycott all Russian products, including vodka and caviar. In the New York Times and in an interview with the The Hollywood Reporter, actor Harvey Fierstein makes a cogent and convincing case for applying financial pressure to Russia:
There’s only one way to change somebody like Putin and that’s in the pocketbook. You can’t get him with angry words. He feeds on that and his followers feed on that. You make the West angry, they’re thrilled. You can’t get them that way. You can’t get them through a U.N. sanction: ‘Oh boy, the U.S. is mad at me. I’m shaking all the f–k over.’ There’s only one way and that’s in the pocketbook. You hurt them in the pocketbook, they shut the f–k up and back the f–k down. … [A]ny country that puts money into Russia, and that’s what doing the Olympics is, [is guilty].
In the New York Times Fierstein elaborated:
Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook. Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians. In May a young gay man was murdered in the city of Volgograd. He was beaten, his body violated with beer bottles, his clothing set on fire, his head crushed with a rock. This is most likely just the beginning.
In 1936 the world attended the Olympics in Germany. Few participants said a word about Hitler’s campaign against the Jews. Supporters of that decision point proudly to the triumph of Jesse Owens, while I point with dread to the Holocaust and world war. There is a price for tolerating intolerance.
Dan Savage added his important voice to this growing chorus:
If there isn’t a boycott—if gay and pro-gay athletes compete at the Olympics in Sochi this winter—there must be a protest during the Sochi Olympics that is as powerful and indelible as Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s protest during the Mexico City Olympics. It should happen on the medal stand while the world watches.
But boycott or no boycott 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.
Here is a list of Russian vodkas currently available in the US: Dovgan, Gold Symphony, Standart, Hrenovuha, Kauffman , Kubanskaya, Moskovskaya, Narodnaya, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Putinka, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard, Shustov, Starka, Stolnaya, Youri Dolgoruki. The two best known Russian vodkas? Russian Standard and Stolichnaya.
If you need your vodka here is a list of product made in America.
Another Russian enterprise susceptible to pressure is caviar. Due to fishing restrictions in the Black Sea, an American caviar industry has sprung up and is beginning to prosper. It would behoove these American caviar companies to join our efforts to boycott Russian caviar and fill the demand for this product. This would be a wonderful way to increase business, while creating American jobs in a time of high unemployment. Furthermore, there are many who say that American caviar is superior because of the freshness of the product.
Today, the Human Rights Campaign’s President, Chad Griffin, chimed in:
The Human Rights Campaign says that NBCUniversal — which has the broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — has a “responsibility to expose” anti-LGBT laws in the country.
After describing the new law banning “propaganda” about LGBT people in Russia that was signed into law this June, HRC president Chad Griffin wrote to NBCUniversal chief executive officer Stephen Burke, “NBCUniversal … has a unique opportunity — and a responsibility — to expose this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the Games.”
TWO strongly urges its readers and supporters to spread the word far and wide about what is happening in Russia. It is critical that we put a stop to this madness and stand up to protect LGBT people from vicious persecution. Don’t buy Russian products until their ugly anti-gay laws are repealed and LGBT people have a right to freedom of speech and assembly, without being attacked by thugs. Those of us with a sense of history know the outcome when bigotry and discrimination is allowed to flower and flourish.
Vote with your voice and your purse or wallet. If it says “Made in Russia” — walk away.