How ‘Russia’s Coca-Cola’ took on a racist cult and won

The brewer of a traditional drink decided to look beyond its history and became an unlikely warrior for inclusivity, reports Oliver Carroll from Kirov

Friday 22 October 2021 17:00
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<p>An image from the Vyatsky Kvass anti-racism ad campaign </p>

An image from the Vyatsky Kvass anti-racism ad campaign

For six years, they terrorised feminists, gays and black people; anyone who did not fit their extreme worldview. Their campaign of online and offline violence mostly went unchecked. At times, it appeared to have the tacit approval of parts of the Russian state. But this week, the group of vigilantes that called itself Male State met its match.

Formally, it was a judge in Nizhny Novgorod who delivered the group’s death blow, consigning the organisation and its founder Vladislav Pozdnyakov to the country’s extremist register on Monday. But responsibility for the victory belongs elsewhere – in Kirov, a small provincial town 500 miles northeast of Moscow, and to Vyatsky Kvass, the makers of a traditional Russian fermented drink called kvass.

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