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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lantos Has Harsh Words for Putin

WASHINGTON -- Days after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a conciliatory trip to Moscow, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs committee is urging the United States to speak out against the Russian government's abuse of opponents.

Democratic Representative Tom Lantos gave a starkly worded speech at a hearing Thursday criticizing moves by President Vladimir Putin that he said "threatened to send the country back to its authoritarian past."

"I do not think Vladimir Putin is a reincarnation of Josef Stalin," Lantos said. "But I am profoundly disturbed by his pattern of abuse and repression of dissidents, independent journalists, and, in fact anyone who opposes him."

The speech comes after Rice was in Moscow earlier in the week seeking to repair damage to U.S.-Russian relations. Rice and Putin agreed to tone down their rhetoric.

Lantos warned that Putin was in the process of taking control of all independent media, cracking down on dissidents and using energy monopolies to bend other countries to its will.

"We don't see the descending of a new Iron Curtain," he said during the hearing titled "Russia: Rebuilding the Iron Curtain."

"But we have moved back very, very sharply in the wrong direction."