"The first problem, though, with the campaign is that it was launched by Westerners without actually talking to any activists inside Russia.
The second problem is that Stoli is not Russian. They were thinking of Vladimir Putin’s evil-twin Russian Stoli vodka.
When confronted with this fact, the Dump Stoli group responded by saying that Stoli’s owner is ethnically Russian (without noting that he’s on the run from Russia because Vladimir Putin wants to take his company).
But then, they protested that Stoli deserves a boycott because it says “Russian Vodka” on the label. But, that’s marketing (and it actually hasn’t said that in about seven years). That’s like protesting T.G.I. Friday’s because it serves German chocolate cake.
But, then they complained that Stoli uses some Russian ingredients…just like Coca-Cola uses some Russian ingredients in the products that it sells throughout Russia. Actually, Coca-Cola operates up to 16 plants in the Russian Federation while employing over 13,000 people there (and claiming its supply chain employs up to 130,000 people). But, no one is calling on gays to dump Fanta and Sprite and certainly not Diet Coke.
“Whatever,” Dan Savage and his ‘Dump Stoli’ friends responded. “At the end of the year Stoli will be a Russian company again.” Well…not exactly. A court in the Hauge ruled that the Stoli brand in the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Belgium did belong to the Russian Federation. So, it could be possible that Putin could be selling his zombie Stoli vodka in those three countries soon (but, just there). But, it’s still unclear if that will happen. We’ll wait to see what the legal experts have to say.
“Well,” people like Savage say. “Stoli has never hidden its Russian roots and actually embraces them.” Yes, that’s correct. You can say the same thing for Cuban exile Gloria Estefan who has never hidden her Cuban roots, embraces them, and has capitalized on being Cuban. Yet, it would be unfair to target Estefan for the policies of the Castro brothers in Cuba. In fact, as a Cuban exile, Estefan has been on of their largest critics – just as Yuri Sheffler, as a Russian exile, has been one of Putin’s largest critics.
Ok, ok. We get that Stoli’s owner has been in a decade-plus battle with Vladimir Putin and Putin has persecuted Stoli vodka literally to the ends of the Earth. But, as people like John Aravosis of AmericaBlog argue, if hurting Stoli and Yuri Sheffler is the price to pay to raise awareness for this issue, then that is a good thing. It’s drawing attention to the greater good. Actually, that is called scapegoating, and it is one of the most evil things you can do as a human being.
On Friday, the Latvian LGBT group MOZAIKA called on the ‘Dump Stoli’ group to stop their boycott as it is actually hurting Latvia and not Russia.
When confronted with all of this, Dan Savage brushed it off saying that he couldn’t be bothered since he was on vacation.