Dear Apple: Don’t Work With Russian Company Whose Creative Director Advocates “Burning Gays in Ovens”

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=60772606&src=id">1000 Words</a>/Shutterstock

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On Sunday, a coalition of over 15 Russian LGBT organizations encouraged Apple to avoid business dealings with Euroset, the largest phone retailer in Russia, whose creative director gained recent notoriety for wanting to shove all gay people “alive into an oven.”

Ivan Okhlobystin, who stars on a Scrubs-like sitcom in addition to working for Euroset, also compared homosexuality to fascism and declared it an “overt sign of mental abnormality” at a “spiritual talk” in Novosibirsk last month. He later confirmed his comments on Twitter, suggesting his anti-gay stance would draw customers to Euroset stores for a “good mood.”

In an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook dated January 5, the LGBT rights coalition emphasized the dangerous potential of hate speech in an already volatile environment: “[Okhlobystin’s] statements have been enthusiastically published by the Kremlin’s propaganda press and distributed across entire Russia just adding additional fuel to the rampant homophobic campaign that already resulted in at least 26 murders and countless hate crimes against Russian LGBT population [sic].”

The letter calls on Cook to “set Apple as an example of a corporate citizen who supports basic human rights.”

Activists are turning to Western suppliers like Apple after getting little response from Okhlobystin’s employer. Six LGBT rights organizations wrote to Euroset President Alexander Malis on December 26, asking him to “clarify how [Okhlobystin’s] views are aligned with the values and principals of Euroset company, and to make a statement on inadmissibility of bullying and violence based on prejudice.”

Malis told Russian newspaper Izvestia that “Ivan expressed his personal opinion, and we will not fire him for that. Of course, we are against burning anyone in furnaces.”

The coalition plans to reach out to other Western mobile phone companies doing business with Euroset. Current suppliers for the company include Google and Samsung.

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment on its relationship with Euroset or its plans for addressing the letter’s concerns. In September, the two companies were negotiating iPhone sales, and in late October, Euroset began selling iPhones in some of its Russian stores.

Read the coalition’s full letter below:

 
letter to Apple

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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