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The Russian element behind California’s separatism movement

Louis Marinelli standing near the Kremlin
The Russian element behind California’s separatism movement

On 13 February in a Los Angeles suburb, a completely abnormal press conference was held, dedicated to the preparation of a referendum… on the separation of California from the rest of the United States.

Regardless of the absurdity of the initiative, its organizers apparently seriously expect success. They explain that they must collect nearly 600 thousand signatures in the span of 180 days. If their efforts are successful, the separatists could organize a referendum in 2019 with the goal of excluding from the state constitution the words “California is an inseparable part of the USA.” Their next step would be to organize a referendum on California’s independence.

Shot from the press conference. Photo:
Shot from the press conference. Photo:

According to its backers, the catalyst for the independence referendum is what they refer to as the categorical unhappiness on the part of the majority of the State’s residents over the policies of the new US President, Donald Trump. The Democrats did indeed win in California by more than four million votes. Besides that, Trump’s habit of seeing his political opponents as personal enemies and periodically mounting slanderous attacks not only on representatives of various nationalities and religions but also on regions only aggravated the split. The habit of Republicans of representing the people of California as “Leftists” and “hippies” only leads to more protests. Incompetent decisions by the new Administrating a feeds the flames of existing discontent.

However, it’s worth taking a closer look at the person seeking to take the lead of this natural discontent.

Louis Marinelli has “second home” in Russia

First, it is evident that the separatist movement “Yes, California” existed at least two years before the recent US elections, i.e. before Donald Trump’s victory. In September of last year the movement’s leader, Louis Marinelli, took part in the well-known “separatists'” forum in Moscow, “Dialogue of Nations. The right of nations to self-determination and the construction of a multi-polar world.”

Read more: Separatists of the world again meet in Moscow to support Russia and oppose US

Incidentally, researcher of Russian regionalism Vadim Shtepa in his analysis notes that one of the organizers of the conference was the “Anti-Globalism Movement of Russia,” which received two million rubles from the National Welfare Fund created under the aegis of President Putin.

“It is impossible to imagine that Russian ‘anti-globalists’ took any action, for example, against Gazprom. They are financed by the government, and consequently have quite a different mission that is completely synchronized with the goals of government propaganda. These goals were laconically voiced by one participant in the ‘multi-polar’ gathering, member of the ‘Rodina’ (Motherland) Party Fyodor Biryukov: ‘To create a worldwide resistance front against the Washington vampires.‘ By the way, this vampire hunter also was busy creating such a front at the Spring nationalist forum in St. Petersburg. In short, the idea of resistance to America is relatively unimportant. The main thing is resistance itself – pure reactionism,” noted Shtepa.

For those unfamiliar with Russian realities, it is useful to explain that a forum organized by the Kremlin and financed by a Presidential fund is not an event to which anyone is invited by chance. Moscow is accustomed to reliance on activists who are totally loyal to it, and Marinelli had proved himself to be zealously loyal even before the forum when he was interviewed on the Russian propaganda channel RT on 20 September 2016.

“We want to enlist the support of Russia and the representatives of other countries. In the future when we conduct our referendum international recognition of the results of the peoples’ vote with be necessary. We are counting on the power of Russia to support us in this question, just as Crimea was separated from Ukraine as the result of a referendum. We want to separate from the States in precisely the same way,” declared Marinelli, although he did not specify if he wanted to repeat the Crimea scenario in California, that is, with the assistance of “little green men.”

All of Marinelli’s activities fit beautifully into the formula “Make Russia great again”
But mere assurances of future international friendship and promises to use the Crimean experience were not enough, and Marinelli immediately following the forum took up permanent residence in the Ural capital Yekaterinburg. With this, the relationship between the “California separatist” and Moscow attracted the serious interest of American journalists and intelligence veterans. Thus, former CIA Director Leon Panetta warned that “Californians should be concerned about the role of Russia.”

Read more: Russians back secession of California from US, Russian-linked leader of Calexit says

It’s interesting that in his interview with journalist Dan Noyes Marinelli explained his presence in Russia as being necessary in order to “build bridges” between governments, and said there were personal reasons, as well, specifically his Russian wife and related immigration questions.

However, in the fall interview with RT cited above he was more open and declared that he considered Russia his “second home” and “can no longer live under the American flag.” In English language interviews Marinelli is more circumspect and makes no such open admissions.

Marinelli – a turncoat “liberal”

Louis Marinelli’s reputation as an opponent of Donald Trump, to be clear, is highly questionable, and not only because he started his separatist activities with the naked support of Moscow a long time ago with no connection whatsoever with the US elections.

According to materials in the American press, the leader of the movement for California secession visited Russia for the first time in 2006 and ever since has lived in two countries. In the US he fought against same-sex marriage, showed himself to be anti-immigrant and at times used openly racist rhetoric and even voted for Donald Trump!

But after Trump’s victory and taking into account the attitude of the majority of his fellow Californians (or former fellow Californians), Marinelli rapidly made himself out to be a “liberal.”

Acting as the organizer of the above-mentioned “Russian Anti-globalist Movement,” he cannot be considered a liberal by any stretch of the imagination. For example, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an honorary member of this organization which declares itself to be fighting for “traditional values,” has a positive attitude toward Donald Trump and Donbas terrorists, supports Putin’s “Novorossiya” project and openly defines its basic goal as “insuring all aspects of Russian security.” Its leader, Aleksandr Ionov, among other things, is a member of the Presidium of the NGO “Officers of Russia,” as well as a member of the Coordinating Council of the movement “Antimaidan” – a fascist organization, dedicated to fighting the opposition in Russia.

Read also: Moscow supports separatism almost everywhere except at home

In a word, all of Marinelli’s activities fit beautifully into the formula “Make Russia great again,” and to do so using Moscow’s favorite tactic – destroy the hated United States of America.

In the pursuit of its goals, the Kremlin will use any trend or movement regardless of their views and ideology.

There is really only one ideology here: the destruction of America, and it makes no difference whether this is accomplished “from the top down” or “from the bottom up,” with the assistance of Republican nationalists or radical liberals.

Russia nurtures separatism abroad but squashes it at home

In fairness, it should be noted that achieving California independence is not an easy path for Marinelli and his Moscow “colleagues.” In 1869 the Supreme Court of the United States of America in its decision regarding “the State of Texas vs. White” formulated the so-called “new Constitutional doctrine of American Federalism.” The Court defined the relationships between all the States as “indissoluble” and “final,” and ever since the courts treat any “act of separatism” as a violation of the Constitution. Thus, in the absence of a new legal precedent, the agreement of all the rest of the States and Federal forces, California cannot secede from the USA, even in the hypothetical event of a successful referendum. There can be no legal “divorce,” and it is completely logical that no President, not even the worst President, would permit it.

In this connection, Marinelli would be wise to turn his unspent separatist energies toward a much more deserving and adequate target, to wit the frustrated Ural Republic which since 1993 has been unable to achieve even a grant of additional rights inside Russia, let alone separation. Maybe Marinelli could devote his energies to helping those Ural activists who recalled the “republican project” of recent years and were inundated under tons of komromat and harassment in the media and were accused of creating a “Maidan in the Urals,” of working for the CIA and of conscious acts intended to destroy Russia. The USA, of course, had nothing to do with this innocent lobbying to improve the status of the Urals within the RF. But Russians once again acted like Russians and inflicted real harm for an imaginary slight – just like they did in Ukraine.

Read also: US, Ukraine said behind efforts to split Russia by reviving Urals Republic

But Marinelli will not recognize this as “denying people the right to self-determination” in his “second home,” although the Ural Republic likely would not refuse the help of an energetic American. In the end, it is much more logical to repeat the Crimean experience in “brotherly” Russia than to haul it across the ocean. After all, the despised American flag is seen much more rarely in Yekaterinburg than in Los Angeles.


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