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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Vodka Maker Forced to Ditch Kalashnikov Name

LONDON -- Britain's Kalashnikov Joint Stock Vodka says it will be changing the name of its vodka in Britain after campaigners launched a boycott over the brand's military connections.

The powerful Portman Group, an alcohol awareness group that counts drinks giants Diageo and Interbrew U.K. among its members, said Thursday the branding could link alcohol with violent behavior.

A Kalashnikov spokeswoman said: "This is a funky and in-your-face brand, but we don't agree it causes people to take up armed conflict.

"We'll be working with the Portman Group because we have to," she added. "Our vodka will probably continue to be called Kalashnikov around the world, but something different in the U.K."

The vodka was launched in Britain last September by the maker of the legendary assault rifle, Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who said he wanted to continue the "good name" of his gun.

Kalashnikov invented the rifle after being shot at by German soldiers during World War II, but it went on to become the weapon of choice for guerrillas and gangsters across the world.

Last week, the Portman Group said it had upheld a complaint against Kalashnikov Vodka and had asked retailers to stop stocking it.

"[We] concluded that a name that primarily evoked an image of a contemporary gun, namely the AK-47, which was one of if not the most widely used firearm in the world, was an unacceptable choice of brand name for an alcoholic drink because it indirectly suggested an association with violent and dangerous behavior," the group said.