After a Russian court found Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty of embezzlement—a prosecution widely seen as politically motivated—President Obama issued a rare reprimand, calling the case “an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends.” Khodorkovsky, already imprisoned for several years, has been a high-profile critic of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and what he says is endemic corruption in Russian government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the president in condemning the decision, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the case “impedes” the ability of the United States to deepen ties with Russia. U.S.-Russian relations had been improving markedly, as the two nations reached agreement on sanctions for Iran and a renegotiated nuclear-arms treaty.
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