Council of Europe election observers have said that Russia needs real political change following the country’s disputed general election. Thousands gathered on Saturday for an anti-Putin protest outside the Kremlin. Speaking ahead of a presentation of its final report in Strasbourg on Monday, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly delegation said Russia needs real political change, not a “survival mechanism” for the current regime. The group, which observed last month’s controversial parliamentary elections, was speaking in Moscow as thousands gathered near the Kremlin to demand fair presidential elections on March 4.
… Council of Europe delegation leader and Dutch lawmaker Tiny Kox warned that nationwide protests since the elections, which have brought thousands onto the streets to demonstrate against the political leadership, were a “wake-up call” for Russia.
The delegation noted “widespread indications of the need for political change in Russia, and called for this change to be substantial and sustainable,” Kox said, reading from an official statement at a press conference in Moscow. “It should not be a survival mechanism.” The council said the change would have to be sustainable
To restore public trust in the electoral system, Russia also required an “impartial referee who can guarantee that this game we call democracy is on a level playing field,” he said.