| 15.8°C Dublin

'moon-face' Mystery of Vladimir Putin, the cancer doctor and healing baths of antler blood


Vladimir Putin chairs a Russian Security Council meeting via videoconference. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin

Vladimir Putin chairs a Russian Security Council meeting via videoconference. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin

Vladimir Putin chairs a Russian Security Council meeting via videoconference. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin

Vladimir Putin was visited by a thyroid cancer doctor 35 times at his Black Sea retreat and regularly takes steroids, according to documents revealing the Russian president’s state of health.

Putin had Yevgeny Selivanov, a Moscow specialist in thyroid cancer for the “elderly and senile”, flown out repeatedly to his residence in Sochi for a total of 166 days over four years.

Putin has also taken to bathing in blood extracted from severed deer antlers as an alternative therapy, according to a report exposing his poor health as the Kremlin’s “main secret”.

Treatment for thyroid cancer usually involves steroids, which according to charities can trigger anxiety and hallucinations.

Western intelligence sources have already voiced concerns over Putin’s state of mind.

Steroids can also cause swelling, including a condition known as “moon-face”. Putin’s bloated appearance has previously led to whispers of plastic surgery.

The Kremlin denies Putin (69) has cancer but Proekt, a banned Russian investigative news organisation, said it had proof that was a lie.

Proekt revealed Putin, who disappeared from public view for a month in September and now holds most of his interactions at one end of a long table, has a retinue of medical staff around him.

It said Putin secretly underwent surgery last autumn. In medical circles, it said, it is believed the president was undergoing a complicated procedure related to some kind of thyroid disease during this period.

Proekt uncovered the details by examining government procurement documents, showing which doctors stayed in four hotels near Putin’s residence between 2016 and 2020, when he was either visiting the city or had disappeared from public view.

During an eight-day period in August 2017, the report said, six medics were in Sochi, including Mr Selivanov and the otolaryngologist – a term for head-and-neck surgical specialists whose remit can include the thyroid – Alexey Shcheglov.

Mr Shcheglov made 59 visits to Putin between 2016 and 2019, for a total of 282 days. Anaesthetists, a neurosurgeon, an infectious diseases specialist and an intensive care doctor were other members of the medical team.

“The president was regularly accompanied to Sochi by an average of five doctors,” said the report, adding that “Putin has publicly demonstrated an interest in the problem of thyroid cancer”.

The report claims that Putin also bathes in deer antler blood as an alternative therapy. Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, introduced Putin to antler baths in the early 2000s.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The extract is taken from the antlers of red deer, removed with a saw in springtime, when the antlers are full of fresh blood.

Clinics that sell antler baths claim that the practice bestows various health benefits. Those benefits, according to a clinic in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, include “male potency”.

The report said: “An acquaintance of the president claims that he had been warned that there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of antler baths. But Putin liked it, and since then he has revisited Altai multiple times.”

After the pandemic broke out, Putin, who carried out one hospital visit in a full biohazard suit, would hold most of his meetings via video link.

He would allow only a few visitors to see him in person “after a two-week quarantine and a stool test”.

Putin’s health and private life are fiercely guarded. During a visit to Ukraine in 2010, he appeared to have bruised cheekbones, prompting reports he may have had plastic surgery. The Kremlin said the light had been “falling badly” on Putin’s face.

Thyroid cancer has an 84pc survival rate. Advice from Cancer Research UK warns that 6pc of people experience serious mental health problems when they take steroids.

It says: “Rarely, steroids can cause a reaction called steroid-induced psychosis. People can become excited, confused and imagine things that aren’t real.”

Meanwhile, the Red Cross said it was forced to abandon a move yesterday to bring civilians out of the besieged city of Mariupol by bus.

City authorities said the Russians were blocking access to Mariupol.

“We do not see a real desire on the part of the Russians and their satellites to provide an opportunity for Mariupol residents to evacuate to territory controlled by Ukraine,” said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor.

Around 100,000 people are believed left in the city, down from a pre-war 430,000. There are now severe shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine.

“We are running out of adjectives to describe the horrors that residents in Mariupol have suffered,” Red Cross spokesperson Ewan Watson said. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]