Last Annual Press Conference for Putin

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday is to give his last annual Kremlin news conference before stepping down from office in May.

The news conference is scheduled to start at noon and last two hours. It will be broadcast live on Channel One and Rossia television.

At last year's Kremlin news conference, which lasted 3 1/2 hours, Putin was hammered with questions about his plans after the end of his second term and who would succeed him as president. In response, he insisted that he would not orchestrate his succession and would only back a candidate after the election campaign began.

"There will be no successor. There will be candidates for the post of the president," Putin said at the time.

In December, Putin backed the candidacy of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is now the heavily favored front-runner with 62 percent of voters supporting him, according to a VTsIOM poll released Tuesday.