Russian has become the "second language" taught in Syrian schools, and President Bashar al-Assad's children are studying Russian, Syria's ambassador to Russia was quoted as saying Friday.
"The decision by Assad that the Russian language become the country's second language is a sign of gratitude to the Russian people for their support of the Syrians," Russia's TASS state news agency quoted Syria's Ambassador Riyad Haddad as saying.
"Also as a mark of that gratitude, many families are even naming their sons Putin," Haddad added.
"It is no secret if I say that the children of the president [Bashar al-Assad] are now learning Russian," Interfax news agency quoted the ambassador as saying.
According to Haddad, Russian-language instruction in Syria's schools starts in the seventh grade, and Russian language departments have been opened in all of Syria's universities.
Russian news agencies also quoted the ambassador as saying Syria's president has donated a plot of land near Damascus for the construction of a Russian school.