A campaign calling for the independence of California from the United States has opened an “embassy” in Moscow.
The movement, Yes California, is hoping for a “Calexit” break from the US. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Louis Marinelli, leader of the movement, said the embassy will not deal with diplomatic issues, but will act as more of a cultural center that will educate Russians about California’s history, boost trade ties and promote tourism.
Today the Embassy of the Independent Republic of California opens in Moscow. Address: Г. Москва, ул. Клары Цеткин дом 4, Офис 324. #Calexit
— CA Embassy Moscow (@CAEmbRu) December 18, 2016
“We’re not requesting military assistance from Russia,” Marinelli explained. “We’re certainly going to request recognition of our independence and recognition of our  independence referendum result, as we’re going to request that the entire international community recognizes the results.”
The California independence movement gained some traction, particularly on social media, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory in November. It describes itself as a “nonviolent campaign to establish the country of California using any and all legal and constitutional means to do so.”
I no longer will refer to myself as an American, I am a Californian. #calexit
— alexis (@herbivorre) November 9, 2016
On Sunday, Marinelli added that he wishes to “lay the groundwork” for bilateral relations between an independent California and Russia.
— Bear Flagger (@LouisJMarinelli) December 18, 2016
“We’re opening up a conversation in Russia and it’s [to] a much smaller degree to the Americans when they wanted their independence from the British empire. They went and pursued military assistance and so on and so forth. We’re not doing anything like that.”
The campaign hopes to hold a referendum on independence in spring 2019 should they be able to gather the 500,000 signatures required for it to be put to a public ballot.
Marinelli has previously filed several ballot initiative proposals relating to secession for California. However, none of them has been successful in gathering enough signatures to go to a public vote.