Yesterday Michelangelo Signorile interviewed Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev on his new Sirius XM show. Audio of the full interview is at the bottom of this post.
In response to the boycott, Mendeleev said the company is in the beginning phase of seeking a group to which it could donate money to help fight the anti-gay government repression in Russia, and would be making an announcement in coming days.
“We are right now contemplating the best way to [use our influence],” he said. “I’ve been giving interviews, some of them in Russia, emphasizing our position, that we are upset by the lack of tolerance in Russia and the law limiting rights. But at the same time, we’re now analyzing the best way to influence this in Russia. Probably we will identify a global or local charity that knows better than us how to tackle the issue and influence the issue in Russia. And we’ll support it financially.”
Mendeleev at first appeared to be unaware of his own company’s policies on LGBT employees. After being informed by a p.r. executive who was present, he said that the new U.S. office that SPI Group opened has an anti-discrimination policy and offers domestic partnership benefits. He at first said such policies weren’t necessary in Luxembourg. After continued discussed he said he would look into the situation in Luxembourg and in Russia and elsewhere.
“Stoli has been a friend of the LGBT community and has been an opponent of the Russian government,” Mendeleev said. “Stoli was singled out by the community with which we associated in a way that we don’t believe was appropriate. If you look at our relationship with the Russian government, we’ve been boycotted by the Russian government for the past 10 years. We’ve been threatened, raided. And now we are being boycotted by the LGBT community.”