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Russian gay activists: There is ‘no point’ boycotting vodka

Gay rights campaigners have responded to Dan Savage's worldwide call to drop Russian vodka as a symbol of protest against Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws
Gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev has spoken out against the worldwide call for boycotting Russian vodka, saying it will not change anti-gay laws.

Russian LGBT activists have responded to the worldwide call to boycott Russian vodka, saying there is ‘no point’ and will not change anti-gay laws.

Nikolai Alekseev, a regular Gay Star News contributor, has said it will have little effect on the ‘gay propaganda’ law.

US gay rights campaigner Dan Savage pioneered the boycott, telling gay bars to ‘dump Russian vodka’.

Alekseev, in the heart of fighting against the homophobic law, described the boycott as a ‘symbolic gesture doomed to failure’.

‘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.’

Alekseev added: ‘And what is the aim of this boycott? 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.’

The human rights campaigner said if people around the world want to do something that will actually help Russian gays, then they should target the homophobic lawmakers.

He said: ‘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!’

Across the world, gay bars like Chicago’s Sidetracks and London’s KU bar  and G-A-Y have said they will be dropping brands like Stolichnaya ('Stoli') and Russian Standard and will only be serving non-Russian vodka.

Stoli vodka’s CEO Val Mendeleev has defended his product, the production of which is brewed in Russia and Latvia.

He said: ‘I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry.

‘Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.’

The ‘non-traditional relationships propaganda’ law was passed unanimously by both chambers of Russian government, and was signed by Putin last month.

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Alekseev added: ‘And what is the aim of this boycott? 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.’
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