CalExit in trouble: Leader of California secession movement resigns, applies for Russian citizenship

Yes California president Louis Marinelli plans to withdraw the initiative to get CalExit on the 2018 ballot

By Matthew Sheffield
April 18, 2017 2:05AM (UTC)
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(Getty/Adam Berry/omersukrugoksu)

The long-shot odds of California becoming its own country worsened on Monday as the leader of the most prominent organization backing secession has formally resigned.

In a statement to supporters, Yes California president Louis Marinelli said that he plans to withdraw the initiative he has been trying to get onto ballots for the 2018 election. Instead, will apply to become a citizen of Russia, a country in which he has previously lived and one that has provided significant financial support to the "CalExit" movement.


"As I have stated in the past, I do not wish to live under the American flag. I do not wish to live under the American political system or within the American economic system. Regardless, I had long planned to eventually return to occupied California and struggle for her independence from the United States so we could build the kind of country that reflects our progressive values. However, while my frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States remains, these feelings now point me in a different direction. I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life.

Consequently, if the people of Russia would be so kind as to welcome me here on a permanent basis, I intend to make Russia my new home."

Marinelli also blamed "anti-Russian" hysteria for hampering his organization's ability to get support:

"Someday, after you’ve read this email and after the false allegations about me vanish, and after this period of anti-Russian hysteria subsides, may it be said of this campaign that we spoke the truth, may it be said of this campaign that we fought the good fight, and may it be said of this campaign that we set in motion a series of events that led California to independence from the United States."

Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via or follow him on Twitter.

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Calexit California California Secession Louis Marinelli Russia