Vladimir Putin is bathing in blood extracted from the severed antlers of Maral deer in an attempt to boost his health, according to extraordinary reports in the Russian media.
Ahead of a visit to the Altai Mountains last year, some 70 kilograms of stag antlers were prepared for the Russian leader 'to take antler baths', reported a local media outlet.
The ancient tradition is seen as a testosterone-driven elixir to improve male health and potency, and he is said to be taking the blood baths several times a year.
Animal rights campaigners have condemned the 'barbaric' practice of sawing off the antlers without anaesthetic to extract blood.
Putin, 64, first asked about the medicinal benefits of maral - or red deer - antler extract a decade ago and his prime minister Dmitry Medvedev is also keen on the blood baths, reported news outlet Republic.
Since that time the President has apparently visited Altai many times, sometimes as frequently as several times a year.
He consulted maral blood medical expert Alexander Zuykov, according to Expert magazine. 'It strengthens the body's bones, muscles, teeth, eye sight and hearing, cures pleurisy, pneumonia, asthma, joint pain, osteoporosis, and problems with the spine'.