Russia accused the United States on Monday of double standards on human rights, criticizing its failure to close Guantanamo Bay prison and its use of the death penalty while the U.S. Congress considers a law which could punish Moscow for alleged abuses.
Russia and the United States attempted to “reset” their relations when President Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009, but ties have turned decidedly cooler since Vladimir Putin declared last year he planned to return to the presidency.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has declared that Russia is Washington’s number one geopolitical foe, while Moscow has chafed under recent U.S. allegations that it harbors human rights abusers.
Now two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, the State Duma lower parliament house held a three-hour hearing criticizing its former Cold War foe.
“The U.S. claim on the role of absolute leader in the sphere of human rights is unsustainable and is not confirmed by practical realities,” Itar-Tass quoted the Foreign Ministry’s human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov as saying to lawmakers.
The Duma hearing took the form of a presentation by the Foreign Ministry recommending actions by the lawmakers.
Russia also said the United States used human rights as a pretext for meddling in the affairs of sovereign states around the world, in a veiled jibe at Washington’s handling of an uprising in Libya.
“(Russian authorities) must defend against policies being carried out by the United States directed at using the concept of rights as an instrument of pressure and as a basis for intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign governments,” the Foreign Ministry presentation read.
That echoed a foreign policy decree Putin signed the day he was inaugurated in May, which said Moscow would seek closer ties with the United States but would not tolerate interference in its affairs and would “counter attempts to use human rights … as an instrument of political pressure”.
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