(Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)

(Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)


Calls On Stolichnaya To Stop Sourcing Materials From Russia As Long As Vicious Anti-LGBT Russian Laws Remain In Place

Burlington, Vt. – Truth Wins Out today asked SPI, parent company of Stolichnaya Vodka, to take the driver’s seat in fighting back against the anti-LGBT oppression and cruelty that has become the hallmark of Vladimir Putin’s regime. The Russian government has recently passed laws banning “gay propaganda,” the criticism of religion, and adoption of Russian children by gay couples abroad, and has increasingly turned a blind eye to brutal, regular attacks on LGBT teens and adults carried out by lawless thugs in their nation. In response, many have called for a boycott of Russian products, including the highly successful Stoli vodka brand, and many gay bars in the United States have committed to stop selling Stoli and other Russian vodkas.

Val Mendeleev, CEO of Stoli parent company SPI, released a statement noting their past support of LGBT causes abroad, and reaffirming their commitment to the LGBT community. They also explained that, while they are headquartered in Luxembourg, their product is sourced from Russian wheat, rye and alcohol.

“SPI has an opportunity to be a model for other Russian companies who rely on consumers around the world for their success,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “They can lead the way by sourcing those materials from outside Russia until the day the Russian government understands that the developed world has no desire to enrich human rights abusers and ends their modern-day pogrom against LGBT people, women, political protesters and journalists. We humbly suggest that the American marriage equality state of Iowa would fit their needs quite nicely.”

The abuses of LGBT people in Russia hardly exist in a vacuum, but rather are the straw that broke the camel’s back for decent, freedom-loving people. In recent years, Russia has become widely known for killing journalists, neglecting and abusing orphans, violently discriminating against ethnic minorities, jailing political protesters and turning a blind eye to the vitriolic actions of the ultra-Orthodox Church.

“Russia must be singled out and stigmatized by the international community, in the same way that it is singling out and targeting LGBT citizens,” said TWO’s Besen. “This petro police state has become a threat to global freedom and liberty and the world can no longer be silent. We must join together and demand that Russia respect basic human rights if it wants to have normal relations with civilized countries.”

As a nation, Russia has a rich history of exporting beautiful, high culture to the rest of the world. Their contributions to music, art and literature over the centuries are innumerable, and the world is a better place for it. Many of those contributions came from people we now know were gay. One wonders what such respected gay composers as Peter Tchaikovsky and Modest Mussorgsky would think if they saw what a human rights nightmare their beloved nation has become.

In several months, Sochi, on the coast of the Black Sea, will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, where LGBT athletes from around the world will compete and win medals, alongside multitudes of athletes who support them. Reversing the course that Russia has set on human rights will take time, and one can argue whether the nation should have been allowed to host the Games in the first place, but if progress is to be made on this issue, which is so much bigger than simply LGBT rights, it must start somewhere.

Lead the way, Stoli and SPI.

Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.