Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gay Russian Alexeyev's Swiss NGO Bank Account: Stoli Funded?

(Nikolai Alexeyev in front of a Chicago billboard selling Russian vodka, during his October 2007 visit. Credit: Gay Liberation Network via UK Gay News.)

The Russian government continues to wage war on all human rights and LGBT advocacy organizations, forcing them to register as "foreign agents" and according to a July Reuters story:

Critics say the law, which has prompted a wave of state inspections of NGOs, is part of a Kremlin campaign aimed at silencing independent voices since President Vladimir Putin began his third term in May last year, although he denies this [...]

The legislation requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad and are deemed to be involved in political activity to register under a label which many Russians associate with the Cold War era of espionage and treason [...] Several NGOs have been fined or issued warnings.

So it's understandable a gay Russian group would seek both financing from abroad and the establishment of a bank account beyond Putin's reach, but when the group is headed by Nikolai Alexeyev, the wealthy advocate who lives in Moscow and Geneva, warning alarms go off.

Weeks of online and street protests against Stolichnaya and all Russian vodkas, including high profile dumping of the liquor, continue to grow with no signs of abating and leading to the Atlantic Blog to post a great story in recent days headlined "The Russian Vodka Boycott is Working, Whether You Like It or Not" written by Alexander Abad-Santos.

With Stoli on the receiving end of millions of dollars, euros and rubles in bad publicity, the parent Russian company SPI Group is desperate to appease LGBT boycotters and is rumored to be throwing money at Russian gay organizations. Perfect time to set up a Swiss NGO bank account and begin accepting donations. Let's see if Alexeyev's commitment to transparency includes voluntary monthly disclosures of who donated to his fund and how much was given.

Here's a rough Google translation of excerpts from the announcement about the fund that appeared on's site this week:

As it became known on Thursday 8 August, one of the leading LGBT organizations in Russia - Russian LGBT human rights project officially registered the public organization GayRussia Fund in Switzerland. 

According to the head of the GayRussia Nikolai Alexeyev:

"the Charter and other instruments of the Organization was signed in Geneva on Monday 5 August. From this moment we began formal activities [...] the organization established under Swiss Federal law and today it was officially opened bank account [...] because of the repressive nature of Russian legislation, we could not register our public organizations in Russia [...] 

"We will do our work as open and transparent. All the means that we will be able to accumulate in support of LGBT human rights activities in Russia, will go to aid specific to activists for their shares, including the payment of fines".

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