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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Gets A Crocodile And a Growl For Birthday

Politicians, students, diamond merchants and one dog sent birthday greetings to President Vladimir Putin as he turned 50 on Monday.

Putin, who attended a CIS summit in Chisinau on Monday, was inundated with gifts, from a crystal crocodile to a copy of a medieval crown and a picture of ultranationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

"I'm very glad that two such amazing events have coincided -- the CIS summit and the birthday of Vladimir Putin," said the summit's host, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, who presented Putin with the crystal crocodile and a bottle of wine.

"The crocodile is the only animal that doesn't go backward," Voronin said rather mystifyingly.

Russian politicians rushed to associate themselves with the president on his birthday, and the Russian delegation in Chisinau was somewhat top-heavy.

Tagging along with Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov for the trip was Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev and even Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.

Although Putin was far away, he was far from forgotten as Russian television channels provided their own gift -- hours of coverage for the birthday boy. Rossia television ran an hour-long interview with Putin, and ORT aired a special prime-time report on the president.

Gazeta.ru reported that ORT general director Konstantin Ernst relentlessly followed Putin around for three days for the report, leaving him alone only in the bathroom.

Diamond monopoly Alrosa said it would give a 79-carat diamond to Putin, trumping the Academy of Jewelry Art, which had made for the president a copy of the jeweled Shapka Monomakha, or the Cap of Monomakh, the ancient ceremonial crown used at the coronation of tsars.

Zhirinovsky handed over a painting of himself.

Siberian students sent cards written in German, although hardly stretching the language of Goethe. "Always be young and handsome. I love you," wrote one student, according to Russian television.

One dog owner showed on television how her pet could say the president's first name -- as well as that of a few million other Russian men -- by growling "Vova."

Other gifts included a man who changed his name to Putin and a Putin look-alike who offered the president a Mercedes with a Volga engine.

The Kremlin press service insisted that all presents would not go directly to the president but become state property.

Thousands of birthday cards, organized by the pro-Putin Unity party, also flooded the Kremlin, many with requests for help.

"Please do more for kids," wrote one child, according to Radio Maximum, "and send us a computer."

It appeared that the only person who had failed to give Putin a gift was his wife, Lyudmila. When asked Monday in Moldova what he had gotten from his wife, Putin said he didn't know yet.

Putin flew back to Moscow on Monday night for a private party with his family.