First, the opposition group Solidarity -- perhaps sensing the elite's vulnerability as the economy sputters -- decided to make a statement in Sochi by nominating one of its heavyweights, Boris Nemtsov, as its candidate for mayor.
Nemtsov, who was governor of Nizhny Novgorod and First Deputy Prime Minister in the 1990s, was actually born in Sochi, meaning he can play the role of a native son returning.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia announced on Friday that it was considering nominating Andrei Lugovoi as its candidate. Lugovoi, a former KGB officer, is Britain's main suspect in the 2006 poisoning death of émigré Kremlin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko in London. Moscow's steadfast refused to extradite Lugovoi has been a sore point in Russian-British relations.
And today, billionaire businessman Aleksandr Lebedev -- who last year announced he would team up with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to form a new political party -- indicated that he will run as well.
The only time that change has come in Russia is when the leadership is divided, willing to support third-party groups in order to undermine another clan vying for leadership of the state -- it was fashionable for aristocrats to give money to revolutionary causes in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the Soviet Union finally fell when the old hard-liners were fighting amongst themselves. So I think there's a real possibility that something interesting could happen in Sochi. Stay tuned.