WeHo bars boycott vodka in Russian protest

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Russia President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo)

Russia President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo)

WEST HOLLYWOOD (CNS) – Bars in West Hollywood have taken Stolichnaya vodka off their shelves in protest Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oppression of gays in that country, it was reported Saturday.

West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran told the WeHo News that the “we can’t stand by as a community and watch on TV the government’s thuggery in the papers without doing something.”

Duran told the newspaper that it “broke his heart” when he learned that in St. Petersburg a small group of LGBT-rights demonstrators were recently attacked by a violent mob.

“I think West Hollywood should be doing something about it, so I (City Councilman) John D’Amico and I asked the gay bars to join us for a ceremony next Thursdays at Mickey’s,” John Duran, who toured Russia with the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir 15 years ago, told the WeHo News. “We’ll pour our bottle of Stoli into the gutter to raise awareness of the boycott.”

The newspaper reported that the Revolver Video Bar had stopped selling Stoli Wednesday night and posted an announcement on its Facebook page declaring a cessation of Stoli sales.

WeHo News reported that the boycott movement started in south Florida and at the Sidetrack bar in Chicago about a week ago. Also, activists across the nation have been calling on the United States to boycott the 2014 Winter Games, which are taking place in the Russian city of Sochi.

Still, Val Mendeleev, Chief Executive Officer of the SPI Group, distillers and distributors of Stolichnaya Vodka, wrote an open letter to the gay community stating that Stoli “firmly opposes” the limiting of gay rights in Russia, adding that “indeed, as a company… we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend of the LGBT community.”

Ironically, western West Hollywood is demographically made up of large numbers of LGBT people, while the eastern half of the city is dominated by Russian emigres.

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