Prior to the Olympics, Sochi was one of the primary gay destinations in Russia thanks to some odd regulations during the Soviet era that demanded husbands and wives vacation away from each other, spas and resorts were divided by sex, and people were often roomed with strangers. After Russia won the right to host and chose Sochi as the host city, however, the gay population began shrinking, and after President Putin's gay persecution laws went into effect the gay scene is all but nonexistent. According to Roman Kochagov, co-owner of the gay cabaret club Mayak:
There is no gay community here. It's a myth. The number of gays has dropped for years. Every year there have been fewer and fewer … now they have almost all disappeared.
Gays are fleeing the country in droves, many heading to the more tolerant atmospheres of places like Barcelona and Berlin.