Coca Cola ambushed over Sochi Olympics sponsorship

London Xmas party hijacked. Collusion with Putin condemned

Coke has refused to criticise Russia’s new homophobic law

London – 23 December 2013


Coca Cola’s Christmas PR stunt in London was ambushed yesterday (Sunday 22 December) by gay rights protesters, appalled by “Coke’s collusion with the homophobic and anti-human rights Russian regime.”

Protesters tried to climb on the roof of the Coke party truck in Covent Garden piazza as staff handed out free drinks, but they were hauled down by security guards. They then stood in front of the truck, urging people to “boycott Coke”.

They chanted: “Things go worse with Coke in Russia.”

Photos of the protest:
Free use. For high resolution versions, click on the desired photo or contact us – our email address is below.

Video of the protest (courtesy Richard Rowland):

“Coke is sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, without even a murmur of unease at the anti-gay and repressive policies of the Putin government. It is shameful acquiescence with oppression,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, who coordinated the protest.

“By sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, Coca Cola is rewarding the Putin regime; giving it legitimacy and credibility. Coke’s sponsorship comes at a time when homophobia and other human rights abuses are widespread in Russia.

“It is shocking that Coca Cola has not been willing to express its disquiet at the anti-gay legislation and violence in Russia. Equally remiss is Coke’s unwillingness to speak out against other Russian human rights abuses.

“Coca Cola, Visa, McDonald’s and other sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics have no moral right to sit on the fence. I doubt they would remain silent if Russia banned the advocacy of racial equality and was demonising, criminalising and bashing Jewish people. It smacks of corporate double standards. They don’t take homophobia seriously. Their failure to speak out is collusion with anti-LGBT legislation and violence.

“We express our solidarity with LGBT Russians and their straight allies. Their fight for freedom is our fight for freedom. We oppose the Kremlin’s crackdown on civil society, including the arrest of peaceful protesters, opposition leaders and human rights defenders,” said Mr Tatchell.

Coca Cola is one of several big-name commercial sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Some of the others include Visa, MacDonald’s, Panasonic, General Electric, Omega, Dow, Atos, Samsung and Proctor and Gamble.

The London protest was organised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, with the support of the African LGBTI organisation, the Out and Proud Diamond Group. The group’s spokesperson, Edwin Sesange, said:

“Our protest was in support of all Russians – LGBT and straight – who are courageously resisting Putin’s authoritarian rule and who are striving for democracy and human rights. Coke should not be giving the appearance of colluding with homophobia and tyranny.

“As Africans who have suffered homophobic persecution, we stand united with our Russian LGBT brothers and sisters. This is a global fight for LGBT equality,” added Mr Sesange.

UPDATE: More photos & video PLUS what Coke put on its website

London – 2 January 2014

Here are some more photos from Demotix photo agency: (Paul Davey) and: (Lee Thomas).

There was also a demo against Coke in Brighton. Surprisingly, Coca Cola put photos of that protest on its own website: But as soon as the publication of these photos got publicity, Coke deleted them:

The Coca Cola protest was part of our on-going campaign against Russia’s anti-gay law and other human rights abuses. We stand in solidarity with LGBTI Russians and their straight allies. LGBTI Russians will win in the end, as will all Russians who suffer human rights abuses at the hands of the Kremlin leadership. No tyranny lasts forever.

Our protest was one small part of a global solidarity movement against Russian homophobia and state repression. Russian LGBTI activists and human rights defenders are leading the fight. Supporting their heroic efforts is important and effective. It has stung the Putin regime. Hence the Russian leader’s current charm offensive.