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The Gay Boycott Against Russian Vodka: Stoli's CEO Speaks Out

The bar at an after-party hosted by Stolichnaya vodka in April in New York
The bar at an after-party hosted by Stolichnaya vodka in April in New YorkPhotograph by Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Gay bars from West Hollywood to London are pulling Russian vodka from their shelves in protest of the country’s anti-gay laws. Columnist Dan Savage launched the effort. He published a story last Wednesday titled “Why I’m Boycotting Russian Vodka,” and rallied supporters on Twitter using the hashtag #DumpStoli, a reference to the popular vodka brand Stolichnaya.

But here’s a fact not known by many boycotters: Two companies produce that vodka. One is state-owned company FKP Soyuzplodoimport, which makes and sells Stoli in Russia and a handful of other markets. The other is Luxembourg-based SPI Group, a private company that makes and sells Stoli in more than 100 countries, including the U.S., U.K., and Canada. SPI Group claims it’s being wrongly targeted.