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Gay bars boycotting Russian vodka
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WEST HOLLYWOOD  (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 that ban gay pride events and "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

Eleven Bar & Nightclub, Revolver Video Bar and Mother Lode are among the bars that have stopped serving the Russian spirit known as Stoli, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday .

Those establishments are on a strip of Santa Monica Boulevard where gay bars and Russian bakers and stores do business side-by-side.

About 40 percent of West Hollywood residents are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and about 11 percent are Russian and former-Soviet state immigrants.

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."

"Revolver Video Bar could not support any brand associated with Russia at a time when the Russian government is implementing its anti-gay law that bans gay 'propaganda,'" the bar said in its Facebook statement.

Stoli's maker, SPI Group, says 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.

Bars in Chicago also have been boycotting.