The very man who is spearheading the movement for California to secede from the United States lives in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Louis J. Marinelli, 30, who supervises Yes California, which is attempting to collect the 585,000 signatures required to place a secessionist question on the 2018 ballot, not only lives in Russia, but appears roughly once a week on Russian state media.
Yes California asserts that it has 53 chapters; one member, Tim Vollmer, said, “Basically, what we’re witnessing is the birth of a nation. We can lead what’s left of the free world.” The organization’s website states:
In our view, the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children. Although charity is part of our culture, when you consider that California’s infrastructure is falling apart, our public schools are ranked among the worst in the entire country, we have the highest number of homeless persons living without shelter and other basic necessities, poverty rates remain high, income inequality continues to expand, and we must often borrow money from the future to provide services for today, now is not the time for charity.
The California National Party, which is also pushing secession, tweeted, “Hands off California, Putin. We won’t take orders from your puppet Moscow Marinelli.”
The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Marinelli in early February, He dismissed claims that his efforts were part of a Russian conspiracy, saying, “And Barack Obama was born in Kenya, right? The fact that I’m an English teacher in Yekaterinburg doesn’t mean there’s some Russian government conspiracy or support for our campaign. The fact that I studied Russian language courses at Saint Petersburg State University in 2007 or ’08 doesn’t mean that I know Vladimir Putin, who graduated from there in 1975.”
Marinelli attended an event run by Alexander Ionov, the founder of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Ionov acknowledged roughly 30 percent of the funding for the event came from the Russian government, but denied any funds went to U.S. groups.
Fiona Hill, a Russia expert with Brookings Institution, speculated, “Russia had a major early-19th century colony in California and there has been quite a lot of interest in promoting this from circle’s close to the Kremlin.”
Marinelli voted for Trump, allowing, “We need things that we can use to promote the cause, and I think Donald Trump is a daily advertisement for that cause.”
But he openly states his problems with the U.S., stating, “I think every country has progress to make on some fronts. People say, for example, that Russia has progress to make when it comes to civil rights and human rights. And the United States doesn’t? In Russia, police aren’t shooting people because of their skin color. There’s pros and cons.”