The leader of California separatist group Yes California announced in a 1,600-word statement on Monday that he "intends to make Russia" his "new home" and is therefore withdrawing his petition for a "Calexit" referendum.
Louis Marinelli, who has spearheaded the Calexit campaign since 2015, set up a makeshift embassy in Moscow in December in partnership with far-rightRussian nationalists who enjoy Kremlin support while promoting secessionist movements in Europe.
"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," Marinelli wrote on Monday. "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."
He added that he will "not return to California in the forseeable future," so "it is only proper" that he withdraw the Calexit ballot initiative petition and "allow a new petition, free from ties to me and drafted by others, to be resubmitted at future date of their choosing."
Marinelli had been organizing the California independence referendum from Russia's fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg, where he has lived with his wife, Anastasia, since September.
This piece originally appeared at Business Insider.