White House salutes peaceful protests in Russia

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The White House on Monday saluted peaceful protests contesting the ruling party's victory in Russia's parliamentary elections, and said it was "encouraged" by President Dmitry Medvedev's promise to investigate fraud charges.

"The demonstrations that occurred in Moscow and in many other Russian cities last Saturday represent a very positive sign to all those who support the democratic process," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"Russian government authorities allowed the demonstrations to take place and refrained from interfering in them. Russian demonstrators abided by the law and held peaceful meetings.

Carney, speaking at a press briefing, said the government and leaders of Russian society "seemed to be looking for a dialogue."

"We are encouraged ... by President Medvedev's commitment to have the Central Election Commission investigate all election violations, and we welcome what appears to be a new era of tolerance for the freedom of assembly."

Tens of thousands of people turned out in Moscow to protest the majority won by United Russia in the parliamentary elections amid allegations of ballot-stuffing and reports of irregularities by Russian and international observers.

An aide to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday however that the results of the parliamentary elections would stand despite the protests and a probe by election authorities.

"Even if hypothetically you recognize that they are being contested in court... this can in no way affect the question of the vote's legitimacy or the overall results," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP.

© 2011 AFP

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