You can't help but think "Russia " when you hear the name "Stolichnaya', or "Stoli" to vodka aficionados. Well , gay rights activists want you to think again. Angered and frustrated and outraged by the ongoing mistreatment of gays in Russia, a group of nightclub owners in West Hollywood and other bigger cities around the country are launching a boycott of Stoli. This morning on Santa Monica Blvd massive quantities of Stoli vodka were dumped out of oversize bottles into the gutter in a dramatic protest. ( it was actually water, staged for the cameras, but the point was made) Why should we support a Russian made product when Russia discriminates against members of our community ? That was the basic question the boycotters were asking. Makes sense, although the CEO of Luxembourg based , privately held Stoli was quick to point out the company has nothing to do with the government of Russia and in fact condemns the increasingly anti-gay line the Putin government has taken.
It's hard to imagine, especially in liberal California and even more so in the pioneering gay community of West Hollywood, that gays are the target of so much abuse, violence, even jailing in Russia. But that's the case, and it's getting worse. Putin recently signed a law banning ''anti gay propaganda'' , whatever that is. With the Winter Olympics there around the corner, where laws against gay rights activism will supposedly be strictly enforced, perhaps the world will focus on an issue that needs urgent attention.