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Prominent Russian LGBT Activist: "No Point" In Boycotting Russian Vodka

When it comes to LGBT activists in Russia, Nikolai Alekseev is easily the best known internationaly. Now, Nikolai is putting his global credibility to use in a campaign against a gay boycott on Russian vodkas. 

"To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka," Nikolai said in a release to Gay Star News. "It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever.’

"And what is the aim of this boycott?" he added. "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."

Instead of a boycott on Russian vodkas, Nikolai suggests that countries ban homophobic Russian lawmakers from entering their respective nations. 

"Just three or four persons on the visa ban list of the EU, USA, UK and several other countries will dissuade other Russian politicians to follow this path. This is the only thing which can effectively work. Pressure your governments to put the authors of those laws on the black lists for the entrance visas. They will suffer and others will think twice. Nothing else will work!"

Do you agree with Nikolai? Is a ban on Russian vodka futile? 

(Image and source: Gay Star News)


Stoli is only spend marketing dollars in an effort to gain your support of their product. Marketing dollars are not directly helping to fight  injustice within our community. Stoli's CEO should be writing a letter to President Putin demanding change not an "Open Letter" pandering to customers. People need to wise up and understand that the super rich have direct access to leaders of the world, it's as true in the USA as it is in Russia. That is the point. To say this boycott is wrong or isn't going to work is just plain wrong. The media attention alone is worth it.

This is as pathetic as the US Congress changing the name of French fries to Freedom fries back in 2003. "We're so mad you won't follow us into a pointless war, we're going to continue to eat French fries but call them a different name.  That'll teach you."

How naive do you have to be to think that not ordering a Stoli vodka in a gay bar is going to change Russian politics?  That's like Arabs in London boycotting McDonalds and Starbucks to protest drone strikes in the Middle East.  And how many of these gays go beyond simple posturing and write to their Congressman or Senator to affect change?  Very few, I would imagine. Not drinking Stoli won't change the political process in Russia one iota - but it will cut into the profits of a company that has supported the LGBT community for years. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

And Russia has become a country like Iran.  I'm not sure how much more you would need than legalizing and turning a blind eye to harassment of citizens (in, I might add, a country where the state of being gay is not illegal - the identity is not illegal, just any visible manifestation (which is a distinction without difference, I grant you)).  Now that the law is being applied to foreigners as well, it is clearly showing no regard for international autonomy.

Of course we can influence them.  When Jean Marie Le Pen tried to enter Canada, such numbers showed up at the airport to 'greet' him that he turned back.  We make it clear we will not vote for any politician who does NOT pressure his or her party to forbid entry to Putin and all other Russian diplomats and politicians and businessmen/women.  If any of them do show up, we show up in numbers sufficient to make business as usual IMPOSSIBLE.  I, for one, don't drink vodka (or any other liquor - or coffee, for that matter), so it would mean nothing if I 'boycotted'.

I think Nikolai has no idea how democratic countries in the West work. When the average citizen wants to show his solidarity, he or she can by making such a symbolic gesture as not buying Russian vodka. The average citizen cannot influence a government to the point that Russian lawmakers would be banned. Russian lawmakers were democratically elected. Diplomacy is a very sophisticated part of politics, Russia would need to become a country like Iran and then its lawmakers might be banned -- but who would wish that?

Not to say Nikolai is completely wrong, he is a champion and an inspiration, but I disagree with him. He is looking at this through the eyes of an activist only, not a businessman, and to that end activism can take many forms. I think its pretty easy to say the each and everyone of us, right now, can make a decision to stop buying all Russian products. Its simple, but going through the process of trying to convenience American politicians to deny Russian politicians entry to our country, not so simple. What is happening from a grass roots level is inspiring, individuals are saying to one of the worlds most powerful countries "NO you can't treat our LGBT brothers and sisters the way you have and we're coming after you, your rich friends and your industry anyway we can." This is collateral damage, the unfortunate by product of war. If you think that statement if over dramatic you better take a good look at the videos of violence against the LGBT community in Russia. As a businessman I can tell you for certain that when something affects my bottom line it gets my attention immediately. If my engagement of politicians is required in order to restore my bottom line that is exactly what I do. When there are enough of those voices, they become a roar that even that dickhead Putin can’t ignore. So lets not stop with Stoli either, what is next?

Well said!

Lumping the LGBT with frivolity is something I frown upon in general, however...encouraging people to not drink Russian vodka and be vocal about it is silly.  I also see Nikolai's point of barring prominent lawmakers and homophobic people from access to places that embrace LGBT which makes more of  impact.  It is a really grotesque situation over there and people want to help as they can.  The world isn't a safe place for anyone anymore even if you are on the right side of the fence.  I agree with Jason.. support organizations that are based in positions to evoke change... not all of Russia is broken.. just cold.

Stoli is spending time, money, and  resources to fight this injustice. We should be supporting them and their efforts, not boycotting

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