Syrian families are naming their children Putin as a mark of gratitude for the Russian president’s support for his Syrian counterpart in the six-year war, a government official has said.
The Syrian ambassador in Moscow, Riyad Haddad, said Bashar al-Assad had also made Russian the second language in Syria, and had donated land near Damascus for a Russian school to be built.
“The decision of Assad that Russian should be the second language in the country – it is a sign of the gratitude towards the Russian people for supporting Syrians,” Haddad said in remarks reported by the Tass news agency.
“Also, as a sign of this gratitude, many families are also calling their sons Putin,” he said.
Vladimir Putin has thrown Russia’s military and diplomatic heft squarely behind Assad, with Russian jets helping the government retake Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, and Russian diplomats opposing UN moves to censure Damascus for a chemical attack on a village earlier this month, blamed on Assad’s forces.
Naming children after the victors and champions of war is not a new thing, but it does throw up some unusual monikers.
Early Soviet families keen to please the authorities eagerly adopted names like Vladilen, for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, or Rem, for revolyutsiya mirovaya – world revolution.
More recently, Kosovan Albanians signalled their gratitude to the British role in the Nato attack on their Serb adversaries by naming their sons Tonibler, after the then British prime minister.