- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The man at the forefront of the California secessionist movement announced Monday that he is seeking permanent residency in Russia and has withdrawn the petition for a “Calexit” referendum.

“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,” Louis Marinelli, president of the Yes California Independence Campaign, wrote in a lengthy statement to followers.

“Accordingly, as the author an architect of the Calexit ballot initiative petition which is currently circulating in California, it was only proper, given my intention to seek permanent residence in Russia and not return to California in the foreseeable future, to withdraw the petition from circulation, and to allow a new petition, free from ties to me and drafted by others, to be resubmitted at future date of their choosing,” he wrote.

The secretary of state’s office confirmed to The Associated Press that Marcus Ruiz Evans, Yes California’s vice president, had withdrawn the Calexit ballot measure.

Mr. Evans told AP that he is leaving the group to join the California Freedom Coalition, which plans to file its own ballot measure soon.

Steve Gonzales, the new group’s secretary-treasurer and board member, said the movement had a better chance at success without Mr. Marinelli, who had been organizing the referendum from Yekaterinburg, Russia, where he has lived with his wife since September, Business Insider reported.

“It prevented Yes California from getting any serious money, I can tell you that,” Mr. Gonzales told AP.

He said his group will not accept any foreign money, and contributions from other states must be cleared by the board.

They need more than 585,000 signatures to reach the November 2018 ballot.

Mr. Marinelli said Yes California had nearly 100,000 registered supporters. In his statement Monday, he expressed confidence that the movement would succeed.

“When that day finally comes, as it will, I shall look forward with great satisfaction to return to California and to live once again under our bear flag,” he wrote. “Until then I will continue to serve as the representative of the Republic of California to Russia.”

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