By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com February 09 2014 10:29 PM ET
Stolichnaya, a vodka once closely associated with Russia but actually bottled in Latvia, has given $150,000 to the Russian Freedom Fund.
According to its website, the Russian Freedom Fund "is a U.S. tax deductible vehicle for making financial contributions in support of the LGBT movement in Russia and efforts to combat discrimination and violence there based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One hundred percent of all donations will be paid out as grants. This initiative responds to growing concerns about recent state-sponsored discrimination in Russia and expresses solidarity between the international LGBT community and allies, and the Russian LGBT movement."
A boycott against Stoli was floated by gay activists last year as many assumed the brand was Russian. But Stoli is filtered and bottled in Latvia, while its bottles are from Poland and Estonia and its caps are from Italy (the alcohol still derives from Russia though). Regardless, Stoli in no way supports the wave of government-sanctioned homophobia sweeping the nation. Now, the company has put its money where its mouth is. John Esposito, President of Stoli Group USA, released the following statement regarding his company's donation to the Russian Freedom Fund:
"For many months, we have been working closely with our friends in the LGBT community to identify ways of placing resources where we can help make a difference in people's lives. Through our network we were lucky enough to be introduced to the Russia Freeedom Fund which will directly help LGBT activists on the ground in Russia. Over the next two years, we hope our donation of $150K will help stimulate positive, lasting change for LGBT people living in Russia. We continue to stand with the worldwide LGBT community against their discrimination and their pursuit of justice and equality."