After Ukrainians complained that the name was referring to Stalin, Ontario liquor retailers removed the vodka brand

As the Ukrainian community complained that the name evokes memories of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Ontario’s provincial alcohol retailer no longer sells Russian vodka brands.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is selling Stalinskaya Silver Vodka online and in its stores.

The vodka company’s website states that the name was inspired by the Russian word “stal”-meaning steel. Stalinskaya, it said, means strength.

But for Ukrainians, the memory evoked by using this name is by no means positive.

“Our first reaction was shock and disappointment,” said Nick Krawetz, one of the many people in the Ukrainian community in the province, who contacted LCBO and asked to remove the brand.

“Considering history, this is definitely offensive.”

Joseph Stalin ruled from 1927 to his death in 1954, sent approximately 1 million citizens to labor camps and executed approximately 700,000 people. His agricultural collectivization campaign led to a famine in the early 1930s, killing millions of people in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union.

Krawetz stumbled upon the brand of vodka while browsing the LCBO website.

“This definitely caught my attention. [It] It just seems strange that such a product will even appear on that website. So it surprised me,” he said.

“I tend to reach out and express my concerns because I don’t think the product has a foothold in Ontario or any province or region of our country.”

Ukrainian community expressed their concerns

The Ukrainian Canadian Parliament (UCC) sent a letter to LCBO urging the cancellation of the vodka brand.

“I think any mention of Stalin needs to be placed in the context of him now recognized as a brutal dictator, who used his communist regime to kill millions of people in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union,” said UCC CEO and Director Ihor Michalchyshyn.

LCBO responded to these concerns, stating that it has stopped selling Stalinskaya online and in stores.

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, 1879-1953). (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

“Based on feedback from some of our customers, LCBO further reviewed Stalinskaya Silver Vodka and found that it did not meet the LCBO name and label standards, and was no longer sold through LCBO,” the statement read.

CBC Toronto has contacted Stalinskaya but has not yet received a response.

UCC says the use of Soviet symbols is “very inappropriate”

UCC stated that it wants all companies to pay attention when using symbols or names related to the Soviet Union.

“Unfortunately, we have seen people, various companies or individuals trying to use the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union as fashionable, cool or ironic brands,” Michalchyshyn said.

“For us and many other communities suffering from the Soviet Union, we don’t think so. We see [as] Very inappropriate. “

UCC hopes to review LCBO’s community and product standards to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.

“Our job is to educate people about Stalin, the impact of his terror on the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian people, and, frankly, the descendants of Canadians.” Mihalchisin said.

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