Stolichnaya Premium Vodka, a Russian brand, has announced a three-year partnership with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Centre – months after the many members of the LGBT community called for its products to be boycotted.
Following the introduction of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law last year, LGBT activists demanded a global boycott of Russian products, including Stoli vodka. Many gay nightclubs across the world refused to stock the spirit.
At the time, company CEO Val Mendeleev responded, “We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia.”
Today, the company announced that it would be donate $300,000 (€220,000) to support the LA Gay and Lesbian centre’s Leadership LAB – a program that helps current and future LGBT leaders and allies to develop critical leadership skills and to prepare the next generation of LGBT leaders to “effectively advocate for equal rights, build strong organisations, and fight anti-LGBT ballot measures”.
John Esposito, president of the Stoli Group USA, stated, “Our position at Stoli is clear. We stand with the LGBT community in the fight for equality, and are proud to be working with the LA Gay and Lesbian Centre to make our joint vision possible.
“Through our strategic partnership we hope to harness the power of our global community, cultivating leaders on a local level in the U.S to create meaningful change throughout the world.
Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the LA Gay and Lesbian Centre commented, “Over the last few years we’ve experienced tremendous gains in freedom and equality for LGBT Americans, but there is still much work to be done, especially in states where organising for LGBT equality remains very challenging.
“And while we’re also making gains internationally, there have been big and significant setbacks. Extremists, acknowledging they’re losing the battle here, are expanding their influence in other countries by demonising LGBT people and attacking our freedoms. Their influence must be countered. This extraordinary commitment by Stoli Group USA sets a terrific example for all corporations.”
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