Leading Russian LGBT Activist Says Vodka Boycott “Will Not Influence Russian Politics”

NikolaiAlekseevProminent Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev has long been the poster child for battling homophobic legislation in Russia. For years, he has personally spearheaded efforts to bring an official LGBT Pride festival to the streets of Moscow, taken his battle to the courts, and has been beaten, bruised, and thrown in jail because of it.

This week, he’s responding to calls for a boycott of Russian vodka, insisting there’s “no point” in boycotting beverages, calling it a “symbolic gesture doomed to failure,” according to Gay Star News.

“To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” he said. “It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever…The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott (which is unlikely) will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the State Duma.”

In place of a boycott, Alekseev said “targeting homophobic lawmakers” is the best course of action. The smartest way to do this, in his opinion, is to pressure other governments to add the authors of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law to visa ban lists, which would effectively lock them inside the country.

“Pressure your governments to put the authors of those laws on the black lists for the entrance visas,” Alekseev added. “They will suffer and others will think twice. Nothing else will work!”

Yesterday, Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev issued a letter stating the company “has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.” Last night, Stoli’s Facebook page got a super-gay makeover with the revival of their #StoliPride campaign. Currently, company officials are responding to many disgruntled patrons in an open forum in the #StoliPride post’s comments section.

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  • Ellipse Kirk

    I still believe that witholding my money from any purchase which may enrich any Russian is a good idea at this point. I can buy products elsewhere until my conscience believes that putting my money into this regime will do no harm to any gay Russians.

  • 2eo

    Yeah, and the will of the people didn’t lead to the fall of the Berlin wall, it didn’t lead to Ceausescu getting deservedly butchered. It hasn’t stopped upheaval in the middle east.

    They’re terrified because they do work, they always have and they always will.

  • brief12H

    Should I drink to forget?

  • Jackhoffsky

    We aren’t boycotting Russian “beverages”. We’re boycotting RUSSIA. For all the shit they are pulling in anti-gay attacks and torture, we should be boycotting the Olympics as well.

    But make no mistake, Russian-made products AS A WHOLE should be boycotted… and at the very least it IS a symbol, just like the red ribbon, the AIDS quilt, and the rainbow flag. At the most it is a decline in sales for state-owned businesses. Either way we are taking SOME action towards those that are being tortured on tape and letting them know that on the opposite side of the world, we stand with them.

  • niles

    Don’t listen to this guy. He has not participated for some time in the demonstrations in Russia and has his own agenda. Russia must be isolated both economically, socially and diplomatically. Boycott all Russian exports and the horrendous Putin showcase known as the Sochi Olympics.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    What a horrid, latent, little putin. Boyyyyyyyyyyycott.

  • Merv

    Taking advice from this guy on stopping anti-gay legislation in Russia is kind of like taking advice from the “No on 8” leaders on how to run a campaign against an anti-marriage amendment. Actually, it’s worse. They didn’t get even one single no vote in the Duma.

  • Modernliving3

    Says the blog with a Stoli banner to the right and at the bottom of this post.

  • Vegas Tearoom

    Absolut has been such a staunch supporter of the LGBT community worldwide, and it is a well priced brand, that I don’t drink any other vodka. YEP ROSSIA!

  • Todd

    Duh….no one said it was going to change Russian politics..Dont listen to this guy.Boycotting all Russian Products is the RIGHT choice..

  • Daniel-Reader

    If you ban them, they cannot be arrested and tried for genocide. Perhaps we should ask the Russian military to do what the Egyptian military has done. The Russian military could then keep all the personal fortune of horded gold that Putin has been stashing away and trying to keep from public scrutiny.

  • Charlie in Charge

    @2eo: I hear you but the Berlin wall didn’t come down because people changed their brand of vodka. It takes real work and dedication. It would seem like the best thing we can do as individuals would be to donate money to the groups in Russia working for social change.

  • hephaestion

    I respect Alekseev but I disagree with him on this point. We must boycott EVERYTHING Russian, especially the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics but also all Russian products. And we must convince the entire world to go along with the boycotts. A country can not permit its citizens to be beaten, tortured and killed by lawless thugs and expect the world to smile and say “That’s OK, Russia. Kill those fags. We won’t care.”

  • Palmer Scott

    @ModernLiving3, Qweerty doesn’t directly control the ads that generate on it’s site. Computers count the number of times certain words are used (such as Stoli) and automatically place ads for that product. Go to any gay website and you’ll see ads for NOM, Billy Graham and dozens of other anti-gay goods and services. It just happens, sometimes to comical effect.

  • BJ McFrisky

    Yes, because boycotting things always works. That’s why Chik-fil-A still has restaurants across the world, despite them being labeled “haters” by the marriage hysterics.
    Sure, go ahead and boycott an entire country. That’ll get you what you want (insert eyeroll here).

  • erikwm

    @BJ McFrisky: Did you roll your eyes at the international boycott of South Africa during Apartheid, too?

    Russia is already imprisoning homosexuals and turning a blind eye to the kidnap and torture of children by anti-gay thugs. Must we wait until they are systematically exterminating gays and lesbians before we speak out?

  • BJ McFrisky

    @erikwm: Listen, Momma Drama, I don’t condone any form of discrimination, but those who believe that boycotting will change the hearts and minds of an entire nation are seriously deluded. Tea Party? Occupy Wall Street? These are people who “protest” to make themselves feel better, not to implement any real change. And even if every gay man and woman in the U.S. stopped drinking vodka, it’s not like Russia would become an impoverished third-world country, so you’ll have to aim a bit higher than a booze boycott if you want to send a message.
    ps – Where have you been while gays have been systematically slaughtered in Mid-East countries? Where was your rage then? I know it’s not politically correct to insult Islam, but they’ve done more harm (physical as well as societal) to us than Russia ever has.

  • skcord

    I feel like we as Americans kinda default to the “we know best” mentality when dealing with foreign countries. I imagine as someone who has advocated for gays from within Russia for so many years, Mr. Alekseev probably has a more nuanced understanding of the situation. Thus, I think his comments and advice, at the very least, should be taken into consideration.

  • Daniel-Reader

    If Russia is so great for Putin, why do his two adult daughters live outside Russia? Why does the son of the author of the legislation live outside Russia? What do they think of these government officials essentially driving gay Russian children to suicide? Do these government officials think they have a right to murder other people’s children? Journalists need to speak with these government officials families to find out what they think of these government officials’ mass human rights violations against other people’s families.

  • Kenover

    Go ask Coors Beer and the Coors family whether boycotts work or not. For those who don’t remember, the Coors family supported right-wing, homophobic organizations and causes like the Heritage Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, which is their right, but they also tried to bust the brewery workers union and unfairly fired gay and lesbian employees in 1977 — setting off a decade-long boycott of Coors beer in the gay community. After a bitter fight and a change in management, Coors encouraged gay and lesbian workers to organize and in May 1995 Coors became the 21st publicly traded US corporation to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners — long before most other companies. Don’t let anyone tell you boycotts don’t work; they do! More importantly, they bring public scrutiny and condemnation upon the wrongdoers. Business is about making money and, as has been noted many times before, money talks.

  • TheMarc

    By all means, let us punish friends in an attempt to strike an enemy. Stoli has been quite supportive of the LGBT community; so I don’t get the logic of an indiscriminate boycott of all things Russian. I think it would make more sense to take the direct approach; pressuring our government to put pressure on Russia for their anti-LGBT agenda. Nikolai is exactly right. FYI…Russia is not South Africa.

  • the other Greg

    I have a naive question: What ELSE besides vodka and caviar does Russia export to the US, anyway? Anything? All I can think of is those nesting dolls. I’m guessing they probably sell agricultural stuff to the EU, wheat, barley and so on, but maybe not? Still poisoned from Chernobyl?

    (Yeah yeah yeah, I could look it up, but I was hoping someone had a quick answer because I’m hung over – NOT vodka – American bourbon!)

    @BJ McFrisky: “And even if every gay man and woman in the U.S. stopped drinking vodka, it’s not like Russia would become an impoverished third-world country…”

    You mean they’re not already?

  • miagoodguy

    Boycotting “Russian” vodka is a joke and will accomplish nothing.

    The top imports from Russia are:
    1. Petroleum/Gas
    2. Iron and steel
    3. Inorganic chemicals
    4. Gems, precious metals, coins
    5. Aluminum
    6. Iron or steel products
    7. Nickel
    8. Other base metals
    9. Fish
    10. Rubber

  • the other Greg

    @miagoodguy: Thanks for the list.

    In the Boston area we also import Russian thieves and terrorists! Let’s boycott those too.

Comments are closed.