HE is a controversial figure in some parts of the US, choosing to spend most of his time at his home in Russia, however Louis Marinelli is set to return to California as the voice of its independence movement Calexit and Yes California.

He co-founded the group seeking to leave the United States and stepped down as its chief after he extended a 2016 trip to Russia as he did not want to live under the “imperialist American flag”.

While in Moscow, he ran what was described as a “people’s embassy” aka the California Embassy and Cultural Centre, which is not connected to the US diplomatic corps.

However, Calexit has said Marinelli will return to the US as its president, with a view to taking the state’s independence to the top of the public agenda with his social media rebranding as “the California Secessionist”.

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It is hoped to re-establish his place as the voice of California’s indy movement, giving him a platform to write and share his view on important events, and publish videos on YouTube and other platforms, in preparation for his bid to become California governor next year.

Marcus Ruiz Evans, CEO and co-founder of Yes California, said the party had made progress in the state’s recall election campaign seeking to remove Gavin Newsom as governor over his alleged mishandling of the pandemic and failure to properly address its homelessness problem.

Although the party no longer has a candidate in the running, he said they successfully managed to get secession mentioned in major policy journals, reintroducing the concept that people are interested in it.

Ruiz Evans said: “No one – not the other candidates and not the Cal Matters policy writers mentioned that this movement was a Russian operation even though the candidate we backed was physically in Russia during his campaign.

“People either don’t believe or don’t even care about media sensationalism about Calexit ‘ties to Russia’ anymore.”

He said that given their new connections with political candidates, recognition in the media and in California news publications, they had continued to demonstrate growth in professionalism and reach.

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“Yes California was able to achieve all of this because of the continued working relationship between myself and co-founder Louis Marinelli, who has been advising me on a daily basis and functioning as guiding light for how the movement should move forward,” said Ruiz Evans.

“He has also been working in the background for the past four years since he stepped down as president, silently and invisibly providing invaluable technical and other forms of material and creative support to the campaign.

“Given the fact that Louis is on his way back to California … [he] will be reassuming his role as president and continuing to support the campaign for California independence as he has been for the past several years, only now in an official capacity and as the movement’s spokesman.

“I have been and will continue to be running the day-to-day operations of the organisation and will also continue speaking on behalf of the organisation and on behalf of the movement overall together with Louis.”