Following the White House assumption of President Donald Trump, series of protest were played across different states over the leader’s immigration order banning seven muslim-majority nations from entering the country within 120 days, draws a new division in America.
Prior to the electoral victory of Trump last 8 November 2016 to become the 45th American President, it prompted a backlash in historically liberal-leaning California and lent momentum to an effort known as #Calexit to break the nation’s most populous state off from the rest of the country.
If the secession movement garners the necessary support, a related initiative will be presented to voters for approval on state ballots in 2018.
The right-wing web site Breitbart posted a story arguing the motivation for that effort, based on media reports that the founder of the Yes California campaign has Russian ties:
The report says, “California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that a ballot initiative called “California Nation” has been approved by the state to begin collecting signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot.
The effort is supported by the “Yes California” campaign, an organization that enjoys the support of the Russian government and whose founder, Louis Marinelli, now lives in Russia.
Marinelli has indeed made no secret of the fact that he not only lives at least part of the time in Russia but also works with a group reportedly backed by the Kremlin, although he denies knowledge of the latter. While he has a San Diego address, as of December 2016 he was interviewed by Bloomberg from his home in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, where he has a Russian wife and teaches English:
As president of Yes California, Marinelli is organizing a statewide referendum on independence to be held in 2019—if he can collect half a million signatures by next fall. He runs the secession movement from 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) away while teaching English at a language school in Yekaterinburg. He is preparing the ground for an “embassy of California” in Moscow, with the help of a vehemently anti-American group supported by the Kremlin. The avatar on his professional Facebook page shows him posing in front of the Voskresenskiye Gates that open onto Red Square.
Marinelli drew a spate of media attention in September 2016 when representatives of secession movements from California and Texas were invited to a convention in Moscow hosted by the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia (ADR) and financially backed by the Kremlin. There, the Californians and Texans were joined by dissidents from far across the world:
Amidst the heavy glitz of the hotel, Catalonian separatists and dissident Irish republicans listened politely to presentations from east Ukrainian rebels, Azerbaijani minorities and the thoughts of the self-proclaimed “King of Hawaii,” who called in via video link.
And among the few dozen activists comparing ideas for how to achieve self-determination, were two Americans campaigning for Texan and Californian secession from the United States.
The conference, now in its second year, is funded largely by the Kremlin and organized by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, a group that closely follows government positions. The movement says it is unconnected to the Kremlin, but the hotel conference was almost entirely paid for by a charitable fund founded by President Vladimir Putin which provided close to $546,000 for the project, according to public records. The attendees, including the Texan delegate, had been offered free flights and accommodation.
Marinelli called us from Russia to say that while he divides his time between Russia and San Diego, the campaign to separate the Golden State from the rest of the United States has no Russian backing. He was, however, unclear on whether the anti-globalist group that hosted the Anti-Globalist convention has backing from the Kremlin. Both the Independent, a British publication, and the Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper based in Moscow, claim that ADR is financially backed by the Kremlin”
Financed by donations from supporters and government grants, ADR has also received grants from the Russian National Charity Fund. An initiative created in 1999 by Vladimir Putin, the Fund has provided ADR with £30,000 since 2014. Its links to the fund, now under the patronage of Russia’s presidential administration, is likely to have influenced the absence of any separatist group operating inside Russia. While vocally supporting pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, the Kremlin has zero tolerance to separatism within its borders, particularly in Siberia and Chechnya.
Meantime office space for a so-called Yes California “embassy” or cultural center in Moscow is provided by ADR, free of rent. Marinelli said ADR is allowing Yes California to use empty office space pro bono.