On social media, many have already made him an honorary citizen, with one widely circulated joke even detecting phonetic evidence of Iraqi antecedents in the Russian president’s name.
It goes like this: Putin’s father was an Iraqi grocer from the Shiite south, near Nasiriyah, who introduced figs (“tin” in Arabic) to local markets and thus became known as “Abu Tin”.
After World War II, he moved to the Soviet Union, married “a blonde Russian girl” and named their son Abdulamir. That proved a bit of a mouthful for locals who Russianised it into Vladimir.
The apocryphal nature of the story appears lost on some Facebook users, who have embraced “Putin the Shiite” and even replaced their profile pictures with a portrait of the Russian strongman.