YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian has undergone stem cell therapy in South Korea aimed at rejuvenating his body, a Korean newspaper revealed on Friday.
The daily “Chosun Ilbo” reported that Sarkisian became this month the first foreign head of state to receive treatment at Chaum Center, a rejuvenation clinic located in the city of Gangnam. A photograph published by it showed him seated in a medical armchair and surrounded by South Korean doctors, his chief bodyguard and Ara Abrahamian, a Russian-Armenian businessman.
“The group visited Chaum every day during their weeklong stay here and had treatment including stem cell therapy, spa and anti-aging therapy, body polishes and massages and weight-control programs,” wrote the paper. It said the treatment which lasted from January 9-17 cost around $186,000, a sum exceeding Sarkisian’s annual salary.
The Armenian president’s press office did not immediately comment on the revelation.
That Sarkisian has had stem cell therapy was first suggested last week by the Yerevan newspaper “Haykakan Zhamanak,” which quoted unnamed sources close to the Armenian government. Sarkisian press secretary, Arman Saghatelian, dismissed this as “ludicrous gossips” in comments to A1Plus.am on Tuesday.
Saghatelian also shrugged off suggestions that the Armenian leader may have health problems. The spokesman for ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Eduard Sharmazanov, likewise insisted on Friday that Sarkisian is “very healthy.”
Sarkisian officially went on vacation on January 7. The presidential administration said at the time that he will spend it in an unspecified foreign state. It gave no details.