At a 2018 rally in Sacramento, hundreds of Californians called for a national divorce, citing “irreparable and irreconcilable differences.”
“Ultimately, the best people to govern California are us Californians,” Louis Marinelli, the founder of the secessionist group Yes California, told the newspaper The Script.
Marinelli, a right-wing activist who previously campaigned against LGBTQ rights, framed California nationhood in terms of competing values — and, at the time, said he’d had a change of heart on issues such as gay rights (his Twitter timeline, today, has reverted to largely conservative causes). In a country led by President Donald Trump, this liberal bastion, he said, should not have to answer to reactionaries in Washington, DC.
It was a cause he cared so much about that he left his home in Yekaterinburg, some 1,000 miles outside Moscow, to fight for it.
“I enjoyed my life in Russia,” Marinelli told The Sacramento Bee, “but something I care deeply about is California independence.”
According to a federal indictment unveiled Friday, Russian intelligence officers also cared deeply about West Coast secession — as part of an effort to destabilize the United States.
The indictment focuses on Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, a resident of Moscow and head of the “Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in a statement. Prosecutors alleged he worked with at least three Russian officials on a “brazen influence campaign, turning US political groups and US citizens into instruments of the Russian government,” Olsen wrote.