The Bild daily published a photo of a membership card issued to “Maj Vladimir Putin”, which appears to be signed and validated with stamps until the end of 1989.
Mr Putin is a former agent for the Soviet Union’s KGB spy agency and was based in Dresden in the German Democratic Republic during the late 1980s.
The German newspaper’s investigation said the document was found in the Dresden Stasi office’s files on “cadres and education”.
The files of the Stasi – the notorious secret police force which monitored the lives of East German citizens during the communist era – were made publicly available in 2015.
Konrad Felber, who heads the Dresden branch of the authority overseeing the Stasi archives, said that Mr Putin’s identity card would have allowed him to enter and leave the spy agency’s offices unhindered.
Mr Felber added that it would also have made recruiting agents easier because Mr Putin would not have had to tell anyone he worked for the KGB.
According to the Russian president’s official online biography, he served at an intelligence office in Dresden between 1980 and 1990. He was promoted to the rank of “lieutenant colonel and senior assistant to the head of department”.
In 1989 the former Soviet agent was also awarded the German Democratic Republic’s bronze medal “for faithful service to the national people’s army”.
Mr Putin returned to Russia in 1990, working at Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) State University before launching his political career.
Former East German citizens have been allowed to inspect their own Stasi files since 1992, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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