MOSCOW - 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 US 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.
Now two weeks before the US presidential election, the State Duma lower parliament house held a three-hour hearing criticizing its former Cold War foe.
"The US 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.
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.
Congress is considering a bill that would require the US government to impose sanctions on people believed responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in a Moscow jail in 2009, and other human rights violators.