15 Responses

  1. Paul Johns
    Paul Johns at |

    What an excellent overview! Thank you!

    One point of information: It’s not really accurate to say that Stolichnaya is made in Latvia. According to the website of Latvijas Balzams, the company that does the final production steps on the vodka and bottles it (and is about 90% owned by SPI, which owns Stolichnaya and other brands, along with substantial holdings in Russia), the distillation is done in Russia with Russian-produced raw materials, then the concentrated distillate is shipped to Riga (Latvia) where it is filtered, mixed with local water, and bottled. (http://www.latvijasbalzams.lv/en/production/brands/stolichnaya/stolichnaya/) Stolichnaya represents a few of the more than 100 products Latvijas Balzams produces in two facilities in Riga with about 600 employees, but it probably accounts for far more than 1% of its production and revenue.

    SPI is owned by Yuri Shefler, a Russian billionaire who is in exile because he opposes policies of the Putin government (including returning the rights to the Stolichnaya brand to the Russian government, as Putin demands–a demand no international court upholds).

    So is it “Russian” or not? Well, like many Facebook relationships, “It’s complicated.” One could make a good case either way. SPI, however, is generally acting in a responsible manner about this in that they have said they are looking for a group to financially support to help the situation in Russia. Given that, its past advertising sponsorships for LGBT events, the fact that SPI is headquartered in Luxembourg and that final production and bottling is done in Latvia, and that Shefler likely has virtually no influence with the Putin government as an exile, it’s not unreasonable to cut Stoli some slack. But not because it’s “made in Latvia”–it’s more complicated than that.

  2. IM Sirius
    IM Sirius at |

    I strongly suspect the Russian government will have a highly organized police plan in place to whisk away any protesters before they can garner much attention. I bet they even target activists before the Olympics begin and “detain” them. So I’m not sure how practical it is to view Sochi as a protest opportunity. And really, the Olympics aren’t meant to be a means to advance political agendas. No matter how noble they might be. So if I got to choose, (which of course would be absurd since who am I?) I’d ask the Canadians to get the facilities in Vancouver ready and have it there again.


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