Virginia ABC Removes Russian-Sourced Vodka After Youngkin Calls for State, Local Governments to Break Ties with Russia

The Virginia ABC is removing seven Russian-sourced vodka brands from its shelves, although Stolichnaya and Smirnoff, which aren’t produced in Russia, will remain on shelves. That’s a response to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Saturday directive to the Department of General Services to review Virginia’s procurement of goods and services involving Russian companies.

“The invasion of Ukraine by Soviet dictator Vladimir Putin cannot stand, and the people of the Commonwealth are ready to rally in opposition to this senseless attack on a sovereign nation and Western ideals,” Youngkin said in a press release. “Today, we are acting to show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they defend their country. And while these are important steps, it is incumbent upon President Biden to take a stronger, more decisive leadership position to end this war.”

After Ohio Governor Mike DeWine removed Russian-made vodka from Ohio’s state-owned stores, Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)  tweeted on Saturday, “Governor Youngkin is right to review all purchases from Russian companies but he should also remove the products from the ABC stores immediately as Republican governors already have in Ohio and New Hampshire.”

“In the spirit of Governor Youngkin’s call for decisive action in support of Ukraine, Virginia ABC is removing Russian-sourced vodka brands from our store shelves,” the Virginia ABC said in a Sunday press release.

The ABC removed Beluga, Hammer and Sickle, Imperia, Mamont, Organika, Russian Standard, and ZYR brands.

Youngkin’s Saturday statement also calls on the Virginia Retirement System and university endowments to divest Russian investments.

He called for Norfolk and Roanoke to terminate Sister-City partnerships with Russian cities.

Roanoke partners with Pskov, Russia. On Sunday, the Roanoke Valley Sister Cities published an open letter to Youngkin resisting the change.

This is not the time to tell our friends in Pskov that we want to sever our ties with them. While we may not agree with the politics in Russia, nor in the countries of any of our Sister Cities for that matter, we do not get involved with politics or take a political stand on any issue,” the organization wrote in the letter posted to Facebook. “Our people-to-people relationships are the best way for us to demonstrate to the people of Pskov and Russia at large that the citizens of the Roanoke Valley and the American people are not their enemies, nor do we consider them to be ours.”

Norfolk is a sister city with Kaliningrad, Russia. On Sunday, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander supported Youngkin’s call to end the relationship.

“Freedom and self-determination are ingrained in Norfolk’s spirit, and we stand in support of a free and independent Ukraine. I am requesting the Norfolk Sister City Association to immediately end its relationship with Kaliningrad, Russia. We continue to be inspired by the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people and their leadership,” Alexander said on Facebook.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Russian Standard Vodka” by Sergei F. CC BY 2.0.

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