Boycotting Vodka to Support Gay Rights
by LTomassini on September 12, 2013 - 9:18pm
The article “Facing Fury Over Antigay Law, Stoli Says ‘Russian? Not Really’” By Andrew Higgins of the New York times posted on September 7th, 2013 discusses the social issue that is discrimination (Homophobia in particular) in Russia today. This summer, a large number of Americans were outraged with the way Russia was supporting homophobia and the way which they were treating their citizens that are of a minority. Americans therefore decided they would boycott Stolichnaya vodka which they believe to be a Russian brand of Vodka. They did so by pouring out bottles of Stolichnaya vodka as a way to get the Russian President Vladimir Putin to put into place new laws outlawing homophobic propaganda. Many were however shocked to find out that Stolichnaya vodka was not a Russian brand of vodka but rather was made in Riga, Latvia. Many believe that the boycotters had good intentions. Their way of boycotting Stolichnaya vodka however in no way affects Russia and its government. Although they had good intensions, they only ended up hurting a company and country that supports their cause. Stolichnaya vodka is a brand that is however very misleading. The way in which they market their brand leads one to believe that it is Russian vodka. In 2006, the label on the Stolichnaya vodka bottle said “mother of all vodkas from the motherland of vodka” and in 2010, they changed their label to say “premium vodka”. This led many to believe that Stolichnaya vodka was in fact Russian. Today although it’s main ingredients are from Russia, it is both flirted and blended in Latvia. The company that controls this brand of vodka (SPI) confirms that it is not a Russian brand. It is not trying to deny its Russian roots but rather wants to make it clear that by dumping their product, the boycotters are not doing anything that will influence the Russian Government simply because this issue does not affect them. Despite the boycotts, Stolichnaya vodka says their sales have not been affected although this takes several months to asses. There have also been some bars in big cities in the United States that have stopped buying this brand of vodka. Many hope this boycott will end before it starts to have an affect on the population in Latvia. The Stolichnaya vodka factories have many employees who can not afford to lose their jobs over a misunderstanding like this one.
In my opinion, I think that the boycott is a clever way to get the Russian governments’ attention when it comes to its homophobic laws. I think it is very unfortunate however that homosexual’s are still being discriminated against in countries around the world. Especially in such a large country that has a strong political influence in what happens around the world today. However, the Stolichnaya vodka is not Russian. This boycott is therefore causing problems for citizens living in a country where homophobia is not a major issue. Latvia is wrongly being boycotted. If this boycott doesn’t come to an end soon, many people are at risk of losing their jobs which can lead to many other social issues within the country. I think that the Russian government should step up and take responsibility for their homophobic actions so that the people of Latvia do not have to suffer the consequences of their Stolichnaya vodka being mistaken for Russian Vodka.