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US ambassador to Russia quitting after Olympics

McFaul says he wants more time with his family

Michael McFaul, who has been ambassador to Russia for two years, said a part of him will always remain there.

Misha Japaridze/Associated Press/File

Michael McFaul, who has been ambassador to Russia for two years, said a part of him will always remain there.

SOCHI, Russia — US Ambassador Michael McFaul, the architect of President Obama’s effort to reset American relations with Russia, said Tuesday that he will leave his post at the conclusion of the Olympics to return to Stanford University.

McFaul, who has been ambassador for two years, said he was resigning to rejoin his family, who returned to California in the fall so that his older son could finish his high school years at home.

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‘‘We tried to make a [5,600-mile] commute work for our family,’’ he wrote in a blog post. ‘‘But after seven months of separation, I simply need to be with my family again.’’

McFaul, well-known for his extensive use of Twitter and other social media, titled his blog post: ‘‘It’s Time, My Friend, It’s Time.’’

Writing in Russian and English, he said he initially promised his older son that the youth would be away from California for only two years.

‘‘After five years away, first in Washington and then Moscow,’’ McFaul wrote, ‘‘he wanted to go home for his last years of high school. We all agreed that it was in his best interest to return, and that decision turned out to be the right one.’’

McFaul, 50, arrived in Moscow as ambassador in January 2012, deeply experienced in the region, appreciative of the culture, and carrying heavy, unwelcome baggage. Before coming to Russia, he served on the National Security Council as Obama’s chief Russia adviser. Before that, he was a Stanford University professor, writing extensively on democracy in this part of the world.

‘We tried to make a [5,600-mile] commute work for our family. But after seven months of separation, I simply need to be with my family again.’

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That academic background was enough for President Vladimir Putin and other officials to consider McFaul a provocateur. He was greeted with suspicion, with one Russian political scientist writing that McFaul had been sent by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to promote revolution and encourage unwelcome democratic initiatives.

McFaul was followed by hostile television crews, who harassed not only him but also the people he met with if those people happened to be involved with the human rights movement or the political opposition.

The ambassador continued his efforts, for the most part maintaining good humor, except for one encounter where he told a particularly aggressive pack that they represented a ‘‘wild’’ country.

In a statement, deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said McFaul ‘‘has been tireless in advocating for the universal values that America stands for around the world, reaching out to civil society, and recognizing the right of every voice to be heard.’’ Obama, Rhodes said, is ‘‘deeply grateful’’ for McFaul’s efforts.

‘‘For the immediate future, my base of operations will be Stanford University,’’ McFaul wrote in his blog post. ‘‘But a part of me — an emotional part, an intellectual part, a spiritual part — will always remain in Russia. That was true before I joined the government. It will remain so forever after.’’

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