Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged citizens to actively take part in this Sunday's presidential elections that many observers see as an easy victory for his handpicked successor.

Mr. Putin, in a televised address, made no mention of his chosen candidate, Dmitri Medvedev, but urged voters to back a candidate who will bring the most benefit to Russian citizens.

Foreign journalists in Moscow say authorities are pressuring governors and mayors to assure a high turnout, with officials pressuring managers of firms to take part in the vote and cast ballots.

Opposition campaign advertising is barely visible. Instead, the media has focused on Medvedev. The first deputy prime minister has not campaigned, but Russians are familiar with him because television shows him traveling or making speeches in his official capacity.

The official campaign period ends Friday.

Mr. Putin is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, but he says he will take the country's number two post - prime minister - when he steps down from the presidency. Opinion polls show Medvedev far ahead of his three rivals.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.