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Published: Tuesday February 4, 2014 MYT 9:20:02 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 4, 2014 MYT 9:20:02 PM

U.S. ambassador McFaul to leave Russia and Obama administration

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said on Tuesday that he will leave his post and the administration of President Barack Obama shortly after the Winter Olympics in Sochi this month.

McFaul, the chief architect of the "reset" policy that improved Russia-American relations during Obama's first term but gave way to increasingly strained ties, had faced criticism from Russian officials during his two-year stint as ambassador.

McFaul cited family reasons, saying his wife and sons had moved back to California last summer and that he would be based at Stanford University, where he taught before Obama brought him to Washington in 2009.

"After more than five years working for the Obama administration, it is time to go home," McFaul, 50, said in a lengthy entry on his blog. "I will leave Russia reluctantly. I love this job."

His posting has been clouded by controversy since he arrived shortly after President Vladimir Putin, employing anti-American rhetoric in his campaign to return to the presidency in 2012, accused Washington of stirring up protests against his rule.

A meeting with rights activists and opposition leaders during McFaul's first week in Moscow drew criticism from Russian officials and particularly the state media, which often have portrayed him as seeking to foment revolution.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

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