Two excellent articles from the Russian media on the gay Stoli boycott

I  just read two surprisingly good articles on the gay boycott of Russia, and particularly vodka (especially Stolichnaya), by RIA Novosti, a state-owned news agency in, of all places, Russia.

The first is about the gay boycott of vodka/Stoli generally, and the second is about Stolichnaya’s odd effort to distance itself from its Russian roots (ties the company has been bragging about for years).

As you likely know, Russia is facing a growing international boycott over the Putin government’s brutal crackdown on gay and trans people in the country.  A new law was recently passed in Russia banning anything pro-gay – including speech, or even clothing (they actually arrested someone for wearing rainbow suspenders).  Concomitant with the new law, violence against gay and trans people in the country has increased markedly, and many think the violence is either condoned, or even fomented, by the Russian authorities.

Things have gotten so bad in the country that there are now anti-gay gangs who go on to gay social media sites in order to lure young gay teens who are then kidnapped and beaten, on camera.  The film is then published on a Russian social media site.  And even though the perpetrators’ faces, and town, are clearly evident, the Russian authorities reportedly don’t lift a finger to stop it.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

Russian vigilantes show off a young gay boy they claim to have abducted and then doused with urine after entrapping him via a gay social media site.

As a result of the culture of lawlessness now increasingly gripping Russia, concerns have skyrocketed about the safety of Olympic athletes and guests during next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  Just yesterday, a Russian lawmaker said that Olympic athletes and visitors would be subject to arrest under the draconian new law.  And we now know they’ll also be subject to Russia’s new anti-gay vigilante “police” as well.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Russian vigilantes kidnap and attack a young gay Russian they first stalked on a local social media site.

Back to RIA Novosti and the two articles I mention above.  I realize that my praise might get some RIA Novosti reporter sent to a gulag, but I’m seriously impressed at how fair, and professional, their journalists are being with this topic.

It wasn’t long ago that Russian state-run media was part of the larger Soviet propaganda machine.  And they were vicious liars.  I’ve often felt that Fox News in the US, and the larger right-wing noise machine in our country, copied, intentionally or not, the Soviet model.

The Soviets were expert at building a huge network of disinformation operatives, and then using that network to turns lies into truth.  One favorite tactic of the Sovs was to get a little-known paper in, say, Africa to write some absurd lie about the West (that we were harvesting the organs of children was always a favorite), then Pravda or Radio Moscow back in the motherland would repeat the story, and simply cite the African newspaper as the source.  After all, the state-run Soviet press wasn’t actually lying – it was a real story, in Africa – and the Soviet media was simply repeating someone else’s news, thus giving the lie a veneer of credibility and authenticity.  The Soviets really did excel at evil.

Then there’s the publication and network “Russia Today,” which recently changed its name to RT (I suspect in order to hide the word “Russia” from its title).  Russia Today excels at hating America.  Anyone familiar with Soviet propaganda techniques will recognize the familiar stench of the old ways in RT’s new reportage.  Pretty much everything they write about America portrays our country in a seriously negative light – EVERYTHING.

One need not ask where RT is getting its orders from.  Whereas RIA Novosti’s orders seem to come from the truth, and actual journalism.

ria-novosti-caveat russia gay stoliOne final observation that’s particularly disturbing.  As a result of the new anti-gay law, RIA Novosti has been forced to issue a caveat before all of its new stories about “gays.”  It amounts to a journalistic child-safety warning, and smacks of the official censorship of the Soviet era (Russian President Putin, by the way, is former KGB).

One more reason why anyone concerned about human rights should be supporting the international boycott of Russia. #dumpstoli

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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27 Responses to “Two excellent articles from the Russian media on the gay Stoli boycott”

  1. Me says:

    They are the reality of life.. this is the crap that all of us gays have dealt with our entire lives. Sorry, but I think the images are poignant and necessary.

  2. Steven says:

    I think all news channels has propaganda, RT is very truthfull on alot of things, its just the first years gave it a bad reputashion.

  3. Wolfgang says:

    This whole post about RIA Novosti is so laughable and shows some true colors. How desperate for validation must you be that you *list* some of the propaganda techniques that are used by the Russian government and then fall for them just because your name is mentioned?

    A Russian government news website publishes an article about an American boycott on the portion of their website solely targeting the American readers. There is no mention of it anywhere on the RUSSIAN portion of this government owned website. Indeed, one of the stories you will find there today is that the recent performances of Lady Gaga and Madonna in Russia were illegal for various reasons: and, more poignant, has published an opinion piece today ( – have it translated by Google) that RIDICULES the boycott, says that sales of Russian vodka will not collapse because of this and closes with “listening to some minority is not the Russian way.”

  4. karmanot says:

    Are you in high school writing a term paper on teh gays?

  5. Sterling Ericsson says:

    Then shouldn’t we first have the Russian LGBT community disown themselves from being Russian before helping them? If it’s being Russian that’s a problem, they’re Russian, so isn’t that an issue?

    See, that’s the stupid thing about this. We have an absolute right to be against the Russian government and the fascist system that Putin is setting up.

    Just like we have the right to be against the US government when it does stupid crap.

    But that’s not the same as disowning oneself from a nationality. Are you going to stop being an American when your government does something stupid or wrong? Or are you going to cal for change, because you want your country to be better?

    Everyone calling for “Be against Russia! Russian heritage is wrong!” are basically telling people that even if they support the LGBT community, if they’re Russian, then they are still bad.

  6. mwestport says:

    John and America blog: I appreciate your great coverage of this important issue. I need to mention that, for me, the violent pictures make nearly impossible to read the articles. Maybe a link would work? It’s hard seeing them over and over. I don’t drink so I’m boycotting Faberge ;) and I’m contacting American sponsors.

  7. michael sydney says:

    RT is a nice change from the western propaganda machine too and no different in terms of biased reporting but it does highlight many truths as well. I have seen balanced reporting form them on marriage rights in various countries being lagalised

  8. Thom Allen says:

    NBC is covering the Olympics. I’m not sure that NBC will want to do much to protest against LGBTQ suppression since they’d stand to lose millions if the boycott is effective.

  9. Wolfgang says:

    Something you should also look at is why these articles only appear on the English version of RIA Novosti, but not on the Russian. Meanwhile, the German language version has an infographic to justify Russia’s anti-gay law:

  10. Wolfgang Schmitt says:

    In addition, you should also wonder why these wonderful, balanced articles only appear on the English language version of RIA Novosti- but not on the Russian. While the German version of RIA Novosti has an infographic about the anti-gay law to justify it:

  11. Wolfgang Schmitt says:

    RIA Novosti is 100% owned by the Federal government of Russia and OWNS Russia Today/RT:

  12. UncleBucky says:


  13. karmanot says:

    Yep, Puti kissers.

  14. BeccaM says:

    And increasing numbers of Russia-apologists.

  15. karmanot says:

    Yep, Stoli troll flies were swarming yesterday.

  16. Hue-Man says:

    IAAF World Athletics Championship. August 10-18, 2013. Moscow.

    Are national delegations/athletes planning protests? Are athletes, support staff, judges, fans being warned about “cheering while gay” or being beaten up by skinheads?

  17. Steven says:

    Russia Today does not hate on America, I watch it all the time it is truth full. They actualy bash Russia all the time.

  18. BeccaM says:

    It is also line-broken, which is why it doesn’t work. Mouse over the first part and you’ll see it stops at “…petitio”

  19. BeccaM says:

    What I find interesting is how many brand new Disqus users are showing up on blogs — such as this one right here — to insist repeatedly (and exclusively, with no other remarks of note) that Stoli isn’t at all a Russian company.

    They’re invariably polite, well-spoken and have excellent English grammar skills — plus at least one has suggested a general Olympics sponsor boycott instead (which I also believe is a good idea) — yet the information they’re peddling about the Stolichnaya corporation is flat out wrong or misleading.

  20. BeccaM says:

    The use of proxy servers is increasingly how oppressed groups and those under authoritarian regimes are able to access information that would otherwise be blocked to them.

  21. fallon621 says:

    like Stephanie said I
    am stunned that people can make $7104 in four weeks on the internet. have you
    read this webpage w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  22. Hue-Man says:

    I’d heard about the Russian proposal to ban swearing on the internet (and assumed that all gay-related words would be caught up in the obscenity sweep) and the linked Wired article describes existing internet censorship.

    Does a typical Russian Internaut, especially LGBT, have access to Americablog and other gay friendly sites to appreciate the level of support and concern in the West?

  23. LeeDorsey says:

    HERE from a facebook comment: I was listening on XM and they were trying very poorly in my judgment to convince us they are not tied in to Russia! I am glad to see you post this warning, Lee! Right on! Boycott Russia including Stoli!!

    I think this needs to get a better presentation say on MSNBC!
    I have now been tweeting out as: Don’t fall for The BIG LIE #STOLI is a Russian from #Russia media! #lgbt #vodka #maddow

  24. LeeDorsey says:

    THIS IS AN HTTPS site and you have to sign up first to be able to sign petitions here. So go to and sign up first.

  25. Moderator3 says:

    There seems to be something wrong with the link.

  26. LeeDorsey says:

    Another way to actually help Russian LGBT… Sign and Share this petition:

    ‘Grant LGBT Russians Automatic Refugee Status in the United States’

    Pls Sign this Peition on WH ‘We the People’ Site and SHARE

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