WASHINGTON — Across the globe, people are looking for ways to protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine. That includes some calling for protests against an iconic Russian product, vodka.
Videos have surfaced of people pouring out their vodka, in an act of protest. And it's not just consumers.
Many grocery stores and liquor stores have removed vodka from their shelves, in an act of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. But on social media, there appears to be a lot of confusion about which brands are actually produced in the country.
Brands like Smirnoff and Stolichnaya (Stoli) are reminding people that they are Russian-themed, but they are not made in the country.
Social media posts claim that consumers should avoid Stoli, due to Russian aggression. But the company is not actually produced in Russia.
In fact, the Stoli website has been changed, so that consumers are immediately met with a message indicating their support for Ukraine.
"Stoli Group stands for peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people," it reads. "Liberate Ukraine."
According to the Stoli website, their vodka is manufactured and bottled in Riga, Latvia, and it's registered with the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as a Latvian product.
Stoli's parent company Latvijas Balzams wrote in part the following:
"Leading producer of alcoholic beverages in the Baltic States, JSC Latvijas balzams, together with its parent company, global producer and distributor of beverages, Amber Beverage Group (ABG), has announced that the company is standing firm with the people of Ukraine after Russian troops encroached further into Ukraine. The companies have donated financial resources to the initiative Stand With Ukraine to provide support where it is most necessary.”
Just like Stoli, Smirnoff is not produced in Russia. In fact, on the Smirnoff website, the main homepage reads "Proudly Made In America."
Smirnoff is one of many brands owned by a company called Diageo, which responded to our media inquiry in just seven minutes. According to Diageo, the brand was founded by a man named Vladmir Smirnoff, who fled Russia during the Revolution.
According to Diageo, which is a British company, Smirnoff products are made in Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, Jamaica, Brazil, Argentina, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Kenya, as well as the United States.
The U.S. facility is Plainfield, Illinois, according to Diageo.
One of the latest states to take action against Russian vodka is Virginia. The commonwealth's Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, better known as Virginia ABC, made the following announcement this week:
On Virginia ABC's Facebook page, they offered more clarity, writing that the seven Russian Vodka brands were as follows:
- Hammer & Sickle
- Russian Standard
Virginia ABC confirmed that other brands like Stoli and Smirnoff would continue to be sold.
"We carry other spirits that have Russian-themed monikers and marketing such as Stolichnaya and Smirnoff," the post read. "But these products are not produced in Russia and will not be removed from our shelves."