Pennsylvania state liquor stores drop Russian alcohol

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An employee inside a state-run liquor store.
Charles Mostoller / File Photo

Pennsylvania’s state-controlled liquor stores have been told to remove Russian-made alcohol from the shelves in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said Sunday evening.

The move followed a letter earlier in the day from Gov. Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

“As of today, these products will no longer be sold or procured by the PLCB,” the board’s chair, Tim Holden, said in a statement. “Given the evolving political-economic climate, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Only two Russian liquors – Russian Standard and Ustianochka 80-proof vodkas – are commonly stocked in Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores, PLCB officials said. Several other brands that were available through special order were also pulled.

PLCB conducted an inventory to determine which liquors were sourced in Russia and which were merely Russian-themed. Vodka that utilizes Russian monikers and marketing but is not produced in the country will remain available.

Wolf, in the letter to PLCB officials, said the action would be “a small show of solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine, and an expression of our collective revulsion with the unprovoked actions of the Russian state.”

The PLCB, which has a three-person board, operates 600 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores as part of the state’s control of liquor sales and distribution.

Meanwhile, protests, rallies and prayer vigils have been held in recent days throughout the Philadelphia region, from outside City Hall and Independence Hall to Northwest Philadelphia and Jenkintown, to show support for the Ukrainian people.

Boathouse Row and Center City skyscrapers have lit up in the blue and yellow colors of the Eastern European country’s flag.

Nearly $100,000 had been donated as of Sunday afternoon to the Northeast Philadelphia-based United Ukrainian American Relief Committee’s GoFundMe.

The organization is using the money to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion in the form of medical care, shelter and food. UUARC was founded in the 1940s to help Ukrainian refugees in the aftermath of World War II.

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, took to Twitter on Sunday to plead for further sanctions on Russian oil companies, and he also advocated for the implementation of a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“The time is now to show strength,” he wrote. “One cannot say they support freedom and democracy when they don’t make tough decisions to back up their words.”

Fitzpatrick is a Republican representing Bucks County, where nearly 12,000 people of Ukrainian descent live, according to U.S. Census data.

“If we allow Ukraine to fight alone, we will have failed to learn history’s lessons and we will have failed to rise to the occasion of fighting oppression and defending freedom,” he added on social media.

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