Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday introduced a new twist into the hot debate of who will succeed him, saying the Kremlin top job might end up with an as yet unknown outsider.
The identity of who will replace Putin when he steps down in 2008 is the country's hottest political topic, with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at present seen as strong possibles to follow him.
But at a briefing in Shanghai, Putin, 53, steered journalists away from assuming it was down to a straight race between Medvedev and Ivanov.
His successor may be "someone not very well known ... not necessarily one of two people," Putin said, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.
He was emphatic he would not try to stay on for a third successive term after 2008 -- something that would require a constitutional change.
"You cannot demand that people respect the law if you yourself break the law," he said in Shanghai where he had been at a regional cooperation conference.