Why Russia Loves the Idea of California Seceding (Politico.com link): On a sunny late September day, a trio of tourists gathered on Moscow’s Red Square. Well-dressed, carrying a Russian flag, the visitors bunched in front of the Kremlin’s walls to snap a selfie. Like so many others before, the man taking the photo, Louis Marinelli, took to his Twitter account, and shared the shot for the world.
But Marinelli wasn’t your average American tourist, and neither were his friends. That weekend, Marinelli was ensconced in a conference room in the capital, where he delivered a speech for an unusual cause: the secession of California from the United States. “As not only a representative of the nation of California, but also as the founder and the leader of the independence movement as recognized by the state of California itself, it is my honor to speak on behalf of my people at this conference on the right of self-determination,” Marinelli told his audience. “Our campaign exists to explain why we should free ourselves from the shackles of statehood, and instead embrace the freedoms of nationhood.”
Marinelli, 30, was an unlikely messenger for the “Calexit” cause. He doesn’t live in California. He lives in Yekaterinburg—about 1,000 miles from Moscow—with his Russian wife. But it was not surprising that he had found a platform for his YesCalifornia movement in Moscow. Secession is a popular topic here—as long as it’s from someone else’s country. The Dialogue of Nations Conference, which attracted separatist-minded contingents from Ireland, Spain and Italy, was hosted by a man named Alexander Ionov, whose group had used money from the Kremlin to pay the travel expenses of one of Marinelli’s pals from Red Square: Nate Smith. Smith is one of the leaders of Texas Nationalist Movement that’s pushing to—you guessed it—break away from the United States.
The strategic advantage of making an argument for the secession of an American state to an audience in central Moscow is hard to gauge; after all, it’s voters in the States who would decide this matter. But the value to Russian interests seems more obvious, at least in the estimation of the leader of a separate and competing California secession movement, who actually lives in the state.
“YesCalifornia isn’t a Californian movement,” said Jed Wheeler, the general secretary of the California National Party. “YesCalifornia is a movement whose optics are all designed for a Russian audience to reinforce [Vladimir] Putin, by talking about…how terrible America is, and reinforcing [the idea that] Putin is this great guy who is admired all over the world.”
While the conference was going on, of course, the Kremlin-led hacking campaign against the Democratic National Committee was having its effect on the American presidential election, a provocation that has unwound relations between Moscow and Washington (with the exception of the president-elect) to their lowest levels since the pre-Gorbachev days. Since the election, while Washington (again with the exception of the president-elect) debates what the response should be for Russia’s meddling in the American political process, Marinelli and his handful of supporters are flaunting their ties with Russia, or at least the ones they hope to build. To that end, in mid-December, Marinelli held a news conference, helpfully covered by the state-run RT television station, declaring the opening of a “California Embassy” in Moscow.
It would be easy to dismiss all this as nonsense driven by publicity-hungry amateurs, but people who know the Russian political playbook say winking at these fringe movements—and even giving them a boost—is a part of a very real strategy. Not only is this a way of puffing Russia’s domestic claims at turmoil in the U.S., but it fits firmly within the Kremlin’s modus operandi of cultivating fringe groups in the West—including, most especially, those who would fracture the United States in a reprise of the Soviet Union’s demise, over a quarter-century later.
Mod: You can read this rest of this article by clicking on the link provided above.
YesCalifornia's website looks like this:
Mod: If you want to see more of the finest sedition Russia's money can buy, click here.