Dan Savage Slams Stolichnaya Over Russia Anti-Gay Laws: ‘They Only Plan On Doing Squat’
Dan Savage is furthering his campaign to boycott all Russian vodkas in response to Vladimir Putin‘s war on gays, ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Yesterday Savage posted a copy of an open letter from Val Mendeleev, the CEO of the SPI Group, which is the international distributor of “Stoli,” Stolichnaya vodka.
“The recent dreadful actions taken by the Russian Government limiting the rights of the LGBT community and the passionate reaction of the community have prompted me to write this letter to you,” Mendeleev’s letter, which The Advocate published in full, begins:
I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference.
Mendeleev mentions in his letter the LOGO TV series “produced by Stoli in 2006 called ‘Be Real: Stories from Queer America’ which featured short documentaries on real life stories depicting the challenges and accomplishments of the LGBT community in the United States.”
Stoli is very proud of its current exclusive national partnership with Gaycities.com and Queerty.com in search of the Most Original Stoli Guy. This is a fantastic program that started as a local initiative in Colorado and became a national platform. Previous national initiatives included serving as the official vodka of the Miami Gay Pride Week as well as ongoing events with focus on Pride month.
Mendeleev insists that while “Stoli is made from Russian ingredients… Stoliâ€™s production process involves both Russia and Latvia.”
The Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe.
Savage, who is urging LGBT people and allies to change their social media icons to the above image, created by Matt Fikse-Verkerk andÂ posted on Savage’s website, responds:
For the record: Regardless of where SPI Group’s corporate offices are located, the company is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it’s nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia? The group has sponsored gay pride events in Vienna and Miami. That’s nice. But have they sponsored gay pride events in Moscow or St. Petersburg? Val says that Stoli is upset and angry. That’s nice. So has Stoli said anything to the Russian authorities? Has Yuri Scheffler expressed his anger in an open letter to Vladimir Putin? Did the SPI Group speak the fuck up before the Russian government passed a law that made it a crime to be openly gay and a crime to publicly support someone who is openly gay? Frankly I’m not interested in Stoli’s marketing efforts in the West. I’m interested in what this Russian-owned company is doing in Russia. And from this letter it’s clear they’ve done and they only plan on doing squat.
Stay tuned — more to come.
Image by Matt Fikse-VerkerkÂ via Savage’s The Slog
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Lindsey Graham Admonished by Senate Ethics Committee
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been formally admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for violating ethics rules and standards by repeatedly soliciting campaign donations during an interview at the Capitol.
The bipartisan committee issued Graham a Public Letter of Admonition after the South Carolina Republican solicited donations for Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
“Based upon all available information, the Committee concluded that on November 30, 2022, you conducted a media interview with Fox News in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and that your interview was slightly over nine minutes, with over four minutes devoted to a discussion of the 2022 senatorial run-off election in Georgia. The Committee further concluded that during your discussion of the senatorial run-off election, you directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Mr. Walker’s campaign committee, www.teamherschel.com, five separate times.”
The letter notes that Sen. Graham had previously violated the same standards when he solicited campaign donations in a federal building in October of 2020, but said it was an “unplanned media interview.” When a reporter had asked him about fundraising, Graham “directly solicited campaign contributions” for his re-election campaign.
READ MORE: Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
The Committee noted “mitigating” circumstances and did not cite him for that violation.
“The public must feel confident that Members use public resources only for official actions in the best interests of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” the letter concludes. “Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.”
CNN’s Manu Raju posted the letter to social media.
You can read the letter below or at this link.
In a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for soliciting campaign contributions five times during a media interview in the Russell Senate office building. It is against Senate rules to solicit campaign donations on Capitol grounds pic.twitter.com/amc5ipcosw
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2023
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) is being criticized for having the parents of a victim of the Parkland school massacre removed from a GOP-led House committee hearing on “ATF Overreach” after he deemed them “out of order” for remarks they made while a Member was speaking. Minutes later, Capital Police pinned the father to the ground in the hallway and arrested him.
“See this is, exactly what we have to avoid!” Rep. Fallon, chairing the joint hearing, angrily declared as he pointed his finger after the father, Manuel Oliver, made a remark that was inaudible. “Which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn’t be kryptonite.”
“There’s a decorum that should be adhered to,” Fallon, who recently refused to sign a statement denouncing white supremacy, said as he chastising Oliver.
After another, louder outburst, Fallon mockingly asked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another January 6.”
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Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) responded, “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but I think they’re trying to express their frustrations.”
Angrily again, Rep. Fallon interjected.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,” he shouted as he banged the gavel.
“Member’s out of line,” Fallon said (incorrectly. The term is “out of order.”)
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) on gun reform protests: “Is this an insurrection? Will they be held to the same —”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but … they’re trying to express their frustrations.” pic.twitter.com/SFrMId1fh3
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
Shortly thereafter, Rep. Fallon had both Manuel and Patricia Oliver removed.
“You took my son away from me!”
— Parkland parents Patricia and Manuel Oliver are removed after interrupting a House hearing on Second Amendment protections pic.twitter.com/Bjjoq9k93W
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
ABC News reporter Will Steakin, who was in the hearing, tweeted video and said bot Manuel and Patricia Oliver “appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers.”
Video of Manuel and Patrica Oliver being removed from the hearing at direction of GOP Chair Rep. Pat Fallon
Both appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers: https://t.co/ZebugeU98Z pic.twitter.com/zdpfPGHjDn
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) March 23, 2023
“Manuel Oliver, the father of a 17-year-old Parkland shooting victim, was arrested Thursday on Capitol Hill after he appeared to shout at a Republican lawmaker who was speaking during a hearing on gun regulations,” NBC News reports. Patricia Oliver, his wife and the mother of their 17-year old son, Joaquin Oliver, who was one of 17 people who died in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, was not arrested.
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On social media critics expressed anger at Fallon.
“Rep. Pat Fallon (R) thinks parents of slaughtered children should just sit down & shut up as Republicans maintain outrageously dangerous gun laws. He had this parent expelled rather than just giving a warning, which is the usual,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Texas Rep. Pat Fallon: You are the EXACT problem with the gun violence and why it keeps being the leading cause of death in children today,” wrote another.
According to the NIH, gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.
Still another Twitter user blasted Fallon: “What disgraceful & despicable behavior by Representative Pat Fallon. Exercising your right to free speech is being an insurrectionist? The man lost his son. Have you no compassion? I think he has more than earned the right to be heard by Congress. Such an abuse of power.”
And one called Fallon “feckless.”
‘Repercussions’: Biden White House Warns Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Could Force US to Cancel $950 Million in Annual Aid
The Biden administration may cancel the $950 million in annual assistance the U.S. provides to Uganda if President Yoweri Museveni signs into law its latest “Kill the Gays” bill, which calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and between ten and 20 years in prison for other LGBTQ “acts.”
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby on Wednesday made clear if Uganda further criminalizes homosexuality and the LGBTQ community there could be “repercussions that we would have to take.”
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Admiral Kirby said at a White House press briefing.
National Security Council’s John Kirby suggests the U.S. would consider economic punishments if Uganda’s law criminalizing LGBTQ people goes into effect:
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance.” pic.twitter.com/hWrRrHqd6q
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters Wednesday the Biden administration has “grave concerns” over the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), and “increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons.”
READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre warned. “The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.”
WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre denounces the Ugandan parliament’s passage of a bill criminalizing LGBTQ people:
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights … The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.” pic.twitter.com/WSzCY5Vlq4
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
Kirby and Jean-Pierre’s remarks came on the same day as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation, saying it “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
“The United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, according to the State Department. The money supports development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS,” Courthouse News reported Wednesday. “Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new proposal would broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch.”
Watch the videos above or at this link.
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