The Obama administration says it hopes the Russian government's tolerance of protests following this month's parliamentary elections is a sign of progress in Russia.

Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon praised Russian authorities for allowing the peaceful protests. He said: "We were greatly encouraged to see these rights and responsibilities carried out so well."

Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia said that the administration hopes such tolerance "becomes the new normal."

The officials also welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's call for an investigation into alleged election fraud.

The comments follow criticism from the administration of the election, including comments by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that angered Moscow.