Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will name a preferred candidate to take over as head of state when he steps down in 2008.But he gave no clues as to who it might be – the question has become the country’s hottest political topic. Speaking to reporters he said it was a matter for the people but that he wanted to do all he could to ensure a smooth handover. Since coming to power Putin has stamped his mark on the country. But while cracking down on crime and securing state finances his critics say democracy has been undermined during his rule. He also said a recent campaign against corruption was not yet finished and that the sackings of more high profile officials could be expected.