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From vodka to soccer, campaigns to boycott Russia build momentum

Bottles of Russian Standard vodka line a shelf in a state liquor store in Ottawa on Feb. 25, 2022. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered a third day Saturday, calls on social media grew louder for a boycott of Russia and its goods as an act of solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

In Canada, liquor stores in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador announced Friday that they would stop selling Russian spirits.

The Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), which is responsible for importing, selling and distributing alcohol within the province, announced on Twitter that it would “remove products of Russian origin from its shelves,” adding: “These include Russian Standard Vodka and Russian Standard Platinum Vodka.”

The NLC operates 25 Liquor Stores and supplies 144 Liquor Express outlets throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, according to its official website.

Catching up on the Russia-Ukraine crisis? Here’s the background you need to know.

Some Canadian consumers welcomed the move, praising it on Twitter as an “excellent decision,” while others were more skeptical. “What is this gonna do?” one critic posted “NL Liquor and other liquor boards have already bought and paid for the products. It is not going to hurt them one bit.”

Elsewhere in Canada, Steven Del Duca, the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, tweeted that he had written to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, one of the world’s largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol, according to its website, “requesting swift action to remove Russian Vodka from store shelves.” He said that “any and all means of cutting off Vladimir Putin should be considered, both provincially and federally.”

Later Friday, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario said in a statement that it would be withdrawing Russian products from almost 700 stores.

“The LCBO stands with Ukraine, its people, and the Ukrainian Canadian community here in Ontario,” it said.

In response to the ongoing crisis, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week announced sanctions targeting 58 individuals and entities connected to Russia. He said Canada also would no longer issue export permits for Russia and had canceled hundreds of existing permits worth more than $545 million in U.S. dollars.

Elsewhere, sports continued to be an arena of boycott as Poland’s Football Association on Saturday announced that its national soccer team would not take part in an upcoming match to qualify for the World Cup tournament. The match was to take place in Russia next month, said Cezary Kulesza, the president of Poland’s Football Association.

“Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia,” he said on Twitter.

Poland’s national team players expressed their support for the decision.

“It is the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian National Team in a situation when armed aggression in Ukraine continues,” team captain Robert Lewandowski tweeted. “Russian footballers and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing is happening.”

Some commentators online wondered whether soccer’s governing body, FIFA, would “stay out of geopolitics and stick to its mandate of football,” while others praised the players. One said, “Poland shouldn’t have to make that stance as @FIFAcom should have already banished Russia from the competition.”

On Thursday, FIFA said in a statement that it condemns the use of force by Russia in Ukraine and that it would continue to monitor the situation.

In videos, photos, and maps, how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unfolding on the ground

Another major soccer tournament final is being moved from Russia to France because of the invasion: European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, announced Friday it would relocate the May 28 Champions League final from the Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg to Paris.

In other sports, Alex Ovechkin, the Russian ice hockey star of the Washington Capitals, delivered an antiwar message Friday and said he hoped the fighting would soon be over and there would be “peace in the whole world.”

Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev went viral online after video footage showed him writing “No War Please” on a television camera just moments after he won a match in Dubai on Friday.

In auto racing, Formula 1 said this week it has pulled its race from Sochi, Russia, after the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian Grand Prix had been scheduled for Sept. 25.

“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation,” Formula 1 said in a statement. Former F1 champion Sebastian Vettel also said he would not race in Russia.

A young boy plays piano in the lobby of a Kharkiv hotel as Russian troops advance on the city. (Video: Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

In the arts, the Vienna Philharmonic said it has dropped Russian Valery Gergiev as a conductor for an American concert tour, which begins at Carnegie Hall, over his support of President Vladimir Putin.

In Germany, the mayor of Munich followed suit and threatened to remove Gergiev as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic unless he publicly says by Monday that he does not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also said it would drop the 68-year-old Russian’s planned festival there this September, the Associated Press reported.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia claimed to have seized control of Soledar, a heavily contested salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged recently, but a Ukrainian military official maintained that the battle was not yet over. The U.S. and Germany are sending tanks to Ukraine.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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