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Two Canadian Provinces Pull Vodka With Soviet Symbol from Shelves Due to Protests

Ukrainian-Canadian citizen groups consider the hammer and sickle symbol offensive.

by Ian Burke
Jun 28 2018, 8:05pm

Photo via Hammer and Sickle

Strangely enough, it appears that in Canada, not all arguments can be settled with a Molson and some—extremely—polite debate. Earlier this week, after a complaint from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Quebec will no longer carry Hammer + Sickle brand vodka, as many Ukrainian-Canadians say the symbol is offensive.

Michalchyshyn and the UCC argue that the hammer and sickle symbol is a vestige of the former Soviet government responsible for the Holodomor—a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine during the Stalin regime that killed millions of civilians. Michalchyshyn also likens the vodka’s logo to hate symbols such as the Nazi swastika.

In February, the province of Quebec also assured Executive Director of the UCC Ihor Michalchyshyn that they would pull the brand from their shelves, according to Global News. And after Alberta’s recent decision to ban the booze brand, Michalchyshyn said, the product is no longer available for purchase anywhere in Canada.

However, the parent company that makes Hammer and Sickle, the Klin Groupe, isn’t based in Moscow—or Russia at all, for that matter. It’s actually based in Massachusetts. (Which—for our readers who didn’t major in history—was not, in fact, a former Soviet state.) In addition to vodka, the brand also offers a range of cigars that carry the hammer and sickle logo. (Because that’s what every bachelor party needs, right?) MUNCHIES reached out to the Klin Groupe for comment on the matter but did not hear back by press time.

According to a statement by the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission made earlier this week, the commission recognizes the Holodomor as a horrific period in history.

“The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has heard from Albertans and is working directly and in collaboration with the liquor agency on this matter,” the commission said. “Effective immediately, [Hammer + Sickle vodka] will no longer be brought into Alberta.”