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Coca Cola (Coke) Defends The Arrest Of Gay Russian Man Holding a Rainbow Flag In Protest

Russia Sochi olympic protest

Late last week we reported on young Russian LGBT activist Pavel Lebedev was detained and arrested for holding a rainbow flag during the Olympic Torch Relay. What you may or may not have noticed was that on the official Olympic security guard’s uniform were the Olympic rings and the Coca-Cola logo.

Yesterday the Coca-Cola company released an email statement and responded to the incident and their logo being associated with it in perhaps the worst way possible: by defending the arrest and fining of Lebedev. The statement said, in part:

As a Presenting Partner of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, our logo appears on all of the uniforms for the staff assigned by the Sochi Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) to support the Torch Relay.

SOCOG reported that a spectator was prevented from breaching the security perimeter around the Torchbearer. The spectator was detained briefly by local police and was fined.

Coke then had the nerve to include in the letter:

As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.

Young Pavel Lebedev is a Russian civil rights hero.

Coke is so NOT IT.

Swedish Vodka and Pepsi please.

NOTE:  Of course The Coca-Cola Company has received a 100 percent rating from the Human RightsCampaign (HRC) four years in a row for its workplace policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) associates.   Coke is a major sponsor of America LGBT nonprofits including the Human Rights Campaign.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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4 thoughts on “Coca Cola (Coke) Defends The Arrest Of Gay Russian Man Holding a Rainbow Flag In Protest”

  1. Coca Cola refrains from mentioning in their statement that the protestor was carrying a so-called rainbow flag, and that that was the reason he was “prevented from breaching the perimeters of the torch”, were others who were not carrying such a flag were permitted freely to close in on the torch!

    Coca Cola also refrains from mentioning that the protestor was detained not by police but by Russian security officials, and that he was transported (or perhaps better said kidnapped) out of the city of Voronezh, and was forced to pay a fine.

    Mr. Lebedev has been kicked by the SFB officers, and is bruised by the treatment of these same officers, and was attended to by medical staff.

    Coca Cola omits a lot………..

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