A gay Russian expatriate who sought asylum in the US has spoken out against the Sochi mayor who claimed there are no gay people in his city, saying “I laughed out loud, because I’ve been to Sochi.”

In an interview with NYDailyNews, 26-year-old Gleb Vakrushev spoke against Russia’s notorious anti-gay “propaganda” laws, which he said are incompatible with the Olympic spirit.

“What’s left of the ideology of the Olympics in Sochi? Nothing!” he said. “They are saying in speeches that there’s no gay people in Sochi. I laughed out loud, because I’ve been to Sochi.”

He was referring to the mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov, who last month claimed: “We don’t have them in our town.”

Mr Vakhrushev also revealed he is planning to protest the Olympic Games, which start on Feb 7.

He initially left Russia for New York as a student, and did not return home as originally planned. He said he was afraid to go back to his homeland, but was unable to tell his family why.

Before he left, Mr Vakhrushev had been attacked at a gay night club and faced repeated death threats. One night, his attackers beat him so violently, he was left hospitalised with skull damage. The police failed to follow up on a filed complaint.

Mr Vakhrushev received asylum in 2009.

He added: “Back home you expect people will attack you every day. It’s always something inside of you, this fear.

“The fear of death is nothing like the fear of not being able to live your life, for it to be worthless.”

Earlier last month, President Vladimir Putin claimed gay people would be welcome in Sochi, providing they “just leave the children alone”.

“We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” he said. “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia.”

In a subsequent interview, Putin denied accusations of homophobia, saying he was not prejudiced as he was on “friendly terms” with several people who are gay.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also recently dismissed criticism of the country’s anti-gay laws, claiming not a single gay person in Russia has complained.