Left-wing Californians who want California to secede from the United States in the wake of the 2016 elections might be surprised to know their movement is supported by Russia and the administration of President Vladimir Putin.
According to a report by Bloomberg, #CalExit founder Louis Marinelli — a disgruntled Trump voter and former same-sex marriage opponent who switched sides — is now looking to team up with Putin and leftist anti-American radicals in Russia.
An expatriate living in Russia, Marinelli is running “Yes California,” the organization that leads the effort to put secession on the California ballot. He is married to a Russian woman who is struggling to immigrate to the U.S., and so he currently lives in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, on the Siberian side of the Ural Mountains — about as far as you can get from L.A.
He is hard at work preparing for a “California Embassy” in Moscow, Bloomberg reports, “with the help of a vehemently anti-American group supported by the Kremlin” called the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia.
After Hillary Clinton’s repeated attempts to link rival Donald Trump to Putin and Russia (despite her own pro-Russia policy as Secretary of State), it may shock many of the leftist supporters of California’s secession to learn about their foreign patron.
Russia had a small colonial presence in California in the early 19th century — a fact that led Russian officials to joke about invading California during the international crisis over the Crimea in 2014.
Marinelli says his motivations are not advancing Russia’s interests, but those of left-wing Americans.
“California is a much more open, tolerant society, inclusive of immigrants or people of different sexual orientation,” Marinelli told Bloomberg.
So how did he get mixed up with the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia?
Not surprisingly, with the diverse array of issues driving California’s growing secessionist movement, immigration played a key role for Marinelli.
The visa issues his wife faced, caused by a slow-moving bureaucracy that he calls a “quagmire,” finally turned him against America, he told Bloomberg.
He was so offended by the “anti-immigrant rhetoric” in America that he came to adopt the views of his adopted home state of California. That was before he moved to Russia.
Russia is well known for courting far-right, anti-establishment parties in Europe. However, Bloomberg notes, it also supports far-left movements in a variety of countries.
That now appears true of #CalExit as well — a movement that has become important enough for the President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles), to acknowledge in his opening speech earlier this week.
“Many Californians – some tongue-in-cheek, some hand-to-heart – have advocated withdrawal. But, in America, no state ever succeeds by seceding,” he said.
The left, and Russia, have a different view.