MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia's pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who last week stoked controversy by voicing strong support of recent anti-gay laws, declared she wanted to leave her "decayed" Russian home town to live in Monaco, in an interview published Thursday.
The 31-year-old star double Olympic champion told a mass circulation weekly newspaper in her hometown of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) that she prefers to live in Monaco, where living and training conditions are better.
"I think I will live abroad," Isinbayeva told Argumenty i Fakty. "I will have many responsibilities in Volgograd, but I want to live in Monaco."
In her first major interview since the controversy over her comments on gay rights erupted, Isinbayeva disparaged her home town and said she will only come to visit her coach.
"What can one do in penniless Volgograd? The city became scary, old. It has decayed," she added. "
"The roads are terrible -- if you buy a foreign car you might as well write it off."
Complaining of the working conditions of teachers, doctors and sports trainers, she said: "Our city does not really have conditions for living. No-one listens to us, they just wave their hands."
Last week Isinbayeva was criticised by Western activists and commentators after she backed a new Russian law that bans "homosexual propaganda" to minors, a vague piece of legislation that is seen as an instrument for a crackdown against gays.
"We consider ourselves like normal standard people -- we just live with boys with women, women with boys," Isinbayeva said at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, in comments that she later said may have been misunderstood.
The controversial law was signed by Putin in June and has prompted calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The athlete has said she wants now to take a prolonged break to have a baby but still may return to competition in time for the 2016 Rio Games.
Isinbayeva, who has publicly supported President Vladimir Putin, lived in Monaco in the past but had returned to Volgograd to work again with her long time coach Yevgeny Trofimov.