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WeHo Gay Bars Boycott Russian Vodka Over Anti-Gay Laws

WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBS/AP) — Several gay bars in West Hollywood have boycotted Stolichnaya vodka — which is distilled from Russian ingredients — following the recent passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.

With the overwhelming support of Russia's parliament and Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval, the country recently banned gay pride events, gay adoptions and gay "propaganda."

As a result, Eleven Bar & Nightclub, Revolver Video Bar and Mother Lode are among the bars that have stopped serving the Russian spirit known as Stoli.

Richard Grossi, the owner of Eleven Bar & Nightclub, said they're making a statement against Russia's actions.

"You can't just look the other way when anyone in the world is facing that type of persecution," he told KCAL9's Brittney Hopper.

West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran has spearheaded the boycott and has planned a "Pour Out Day" Thursday for bar owners to pour out all their vodka from Russia.

"We're hoping not only here in West Hollywood, but in New York, in Boston, Miami and Chicago, all across the nation, that our bar owners will boycott Stoli to send a message to Russia to do something about their human rights violations," he said.

Stoli's maker, SPI Group, said the company is "a fervent supporter and friend" of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

In a statement Friday, CEO Val Mendeleev called the new laws "dreadful actions" and cited initiatives the company has taken to support the gay community, including serving as the official vodka of Miami Gay Pride Week.

"I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry," Mendeleev wrote. "We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia."

The privately owned, Luxembourg-based company has no ties to the Russian government. The vodka is made from Russian wheat, rye and raw alcohol at a distillery in Latvia.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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