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Virginia joins other states in banning Russian alcohol from state-owned retailers

Bottles of Russian Standard Vodka at a store in Ottawa. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)
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In response to the war in Ukraine, Virginia has joined states across the country in banning Russian-made liquor from state-owned ABC stores — the sole retailer of distilled spirits in the commonwealth.

“We need to take strong actions to support Ukraine, so I am calling on @GovernorVA to order the removal of all Russian Vodka and any other Russian products from our ABC stores immediately,” state Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) tweeted Saturday morning, adding minutes later that she had been “overwhelmed with texts from my colleagues in support of this idea from both sides of the aisle.”

With the support of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority soon announced it was removing seven Russian-sourced vodka brands from its shelves while still offering a number of spirits with “Russian-themed monikers,” including Stolichnaya and Smirnoff, that are produced elsewhere.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) announced Sunday that the county would join the boycott of Russian-made liquor “in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

Utah, Ohio and New Hampshire have already done the same.

“We will do our part to push back on the Russian invaders and stand with our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. Effective immediately all Russian-made products will be removed from state-run liquor stores,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) tweeted Saturday. “We will also review all state procurements for any Russian ties.”

Bars across the country have removed Russian vodkas from their shelves as well and are instead featuring the lesser-known Ukrainian vodka Kozak.

Canadian officials have also ordered Russian liquor to be removed from stores, including in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Manitoba, while several international sports bodies have pulled their events from Russian cities.

Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.