The controversial boycott of Russian vodka, in response to recent civil rights violations by the Putin regime and reports of violent treatment of LGBT Russians, comes to San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday when local gay activists will be dumping the stuff down the sewer. The action is aimed at getting Mayor Ed Lee to stop serving Russian vodka at city functions, and to sever any sister-city relationships the city may have with Russia. (Note: There aren't any.)
The protest, which began with writer Dan Savage suggesting the banning of Stolichnaya vodkas in gay bars in Seattle, led to the Twitter hashtag #dumpstoli and a growing boycott of the vodka in gay bars across the U.S. and the U.K. It has sparked many a Facebook commenter argument about the usefulness of such a protest, and about whether Stoli is even a Russian product in the first place. (The primary distilling and distribution plant for Stoli is in Latvia, and a Latvian gay rights group has asked for this silliness to stop, because they are part of the EU and not Russia. The grain used in the vodka is Russian, however.) Stolichnaya has put out its own campaign, saying it stands with the LGBT community against the Russian government's ban on "gay propaganda."
Stolichnaya is the biggest and more widely distributed Russian vodka brand, however, with other more Russian brands being few and far between at bars in the U.S., so bar owners have countered that no matter where the stuff is made, the boycott is symbolic and still has meaning, even if the economic impact will hurt Latvia more than anyone.
To their credit, Boycott Russian Vodka is not promoting the Stoli boycott, but is highlighting several Russian brands that are sort of widely distributed here.
Meanwhile, the U.S. should perhaps just be boycotting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, given that the Russian sports minister just came out and said that all visitors and athletes will be subject to the country's law against "promoting homosexuality," which could lead to the arrest of openly gay athletes.