Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has hit out at Vladimir Putin, accusing him of trying become "emperor for life."

In March, Russia will be hosting presidential elections, with all pointers suggesting that Putin will be elected for a fourth term.

But Navalny, who has been a long-time open critic of Putin, said that the polls were not real election.

He said: "This is not an election and my role will consist of explaining to people that this procedure, which they call an election, in fact is only held to re-appoint Putin.

"We will prove this and convince people that it's impossible to recognise either these polls or this regime."

In December, the Central Election Committee ruled that an embezzlement charge meant that he was unable to run against Putin.

He has always denied the charge, accusing officials of fabrication.

He has urged Russians to boycott the polls and protest instead.

"Putin wants to be emperor for life. His entourage, people who became billionaires and the world's richest individuals, they want the same thing," he said.

In Russia there are no term limits for leaders, however presidents can only stand for two consecutive terms.

Putin was president for two terms between 2000 and 2008, before paving way for his current prime minister Dimitry Medvedev. who ruled for four years with Putin as PM.

Then in 2012 the pair swapped titles, allowing Putin to start a second period of two consecutive terms as president.