Russian vodkas may see a dip in sales in the days ahead. And it has nothing to do with the rising cost of Indian potatoes. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Mumbai has decided to boycott all Russian vodka labels at their forthcoming parties. A member of the community said they were protesting the sacking of a Russian TV anchor who had admitted on television that he was gay.An SMS that has now gone viral amongt the LGBT community is asking everyone to stop drinking vodkas manufactured in Russia. Many party organisers too have decided to suspend the serving of the spirit to its patrons at gay parties, as a mark of protest. Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Harish Iyer, an activist ranked by Guardian newspaper as one of the 100 most influential LGBT persons in the world, said he and his friends were boycotting everything that’s Russian, be it a Russian salad or a Russian vodka. “I have known Russia as a country with a large heart. But Vladimir Putin has managed to wreck that image almost single handedly. Now it is seen as a nation where hate thrives and love dies every day. Russia has chosen to be a homophobe. I boycott everything Russian, be it the salad on my platter or the vodka in my glass,” he said.
Another Mumbaiite, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “We know that just one protest in India will not affect the Russian government. But we hope friends in other nations also join us in boycotting all things Russian. I know many bars in some European nations have already started boycotting Russia-made vodka. Every country wants their products to do well across the world and with such boycotts, we hope we will be able to maintain pressure on the Russian government.”
Sibi, who organises parties for the LGBT community, said, “Yes, we are following the global boycott of Russian vodkas by all gay clubs.” According to Sibi, the idea is to let the Russian government’s representatives in India know that there are people who are offended and don’t want the country to hunt down gays. “The removal of the TV anchor is just one among many instances. There are thousands of people belonging to the LGBT community in Russia who are being targeted. We had a party on Friday night and we didn’t serve any of the Russian vodkas,” said Sibi.Another organiser, who hosts parties on weekends, said they plan to keep Russian vodkas out of their bar on Saturday nights.