Volodya and the bears

Those who say that Russian leaders aren’t popular at home are damn liars. Where else, if not in Russia, can you find vodka named after the Prime Minister or the President?

A Moscow Court has declared illegal the refusal to register the vodka brand ‘Volodya i Medvedi’ ('Volodya and the bears’). The trademark is an allusion to Vladimir (Volodya) Putin and Dmitry Medvedev (medved means ‘bear’ in Russian).

In December 2009, a Moscow company applied for registration of the brand. The decision, almost a year later, was to refuse registration because such a trademark would be ‘detrimental to the image and interests of the state and contradictory to the public interest’.

The company approached the Chamber for Patent Disputes which stated that ‘Vladimir Putin was President of Russia in 2000-2008 and now holds the post of Prime Minister and Chairman of the party ‘United Russia’, while Dmitry Medvedev has been President since 2008. Thus, the consumer could interpret this phrase as a pun on the names of the leaders of the state and the party ‘United Russia’, the symbol of which is a bear’. Recently, this decision was overruled by court.

'Volodya and the bears' is not the only brand capitalizing on the national leaders. The same company owns vodka called PUTINka, which literary means ‘a little fishing season’.