No, I don’t know what to make of this either:

In a meeting with the Valdai Discussion Group, a group of academics and journalists, in the Black Sea town of Sochi (now best known for its successful Olympic bid), Vladimir Putin commented, “Now, at least five people are named who can really stake their claim to be elected president in March 2008. Well, if another real candidate appears, then the Russian people will be able to choose among several people.”

The only person (other than opposition candidates without a prayer) who has explicitly expressed interest in running is Viktor Zubkov (who, as you recall, was a complete unknown before, oh, Wednesday). First Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitri Medvedev are generally understood to be contenders, though neither has publicly expressed interest or intent.

But who are the remaining two? No one knows and everyone is talking about it.

And that noise coming from over there in the corner? That’s Comrade Vladimir Vladimirovich, laughing heartily at the big joke he’s playing on us.