The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, welcomes the democratic reforms announced by President Medvedev and offers assistance with their implementation. "The measures announced by President Medvedev are important steps towards strengthening Russian democracy. The proposals to simplify rules to register political parties and reintroduce direct elections of regional leaders correspond to the commitments Russia made when joining the Council of Europe," he said.
"It is the sovereign right of Member States to choose their electoral systems as long as they comply with European democratic standards. With its non-political legal expertise, the Council of Europe can offer advice on constitutional and democratic issues. We are ready to support the Russian authorities," he added.
Regarding the demonstrations announced for Saturday, the Secretary General said: "I also welcome President Medvedev's reaffirmation of Russia's commitment to human rights, including the right to take part in peaceful demonstrations. I call on both authorities and protestors to act responsibly during demonstrations tomorrow."