[News] How Neo-Nazis Are Pushing To 'Ukrainize' Brazil

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Fri Mar 18 10:49:50 EDT 2022


popularresistance.org
<https://popularresistance.org/how-neo-nazis-are-pushing-to-ukrainize-brazil/>
How Neo-Nazis Are Pushing To 'Ukrainize' Brazil
By Brian Mier, Mintpress News - March 17, 2022
------------------------------
Behind The Azov-Brazil Connection.

*A Small Group Of Brazilian Bolsonaristas Have Become Social Media
Celebrities As They Crossed The Border Into Ukraine To Fight Against
Russia, But As Brian Meir Reports, Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Groups Have Had
Influence In Brazil For Years.*

São Paulo, Brazil – During the last two weeks, a small group of Brazilian
*bolsonaristas* became social media celebrities as they crossed the border
into Ukraine to fight against Russia – posing with assault rifles on
Instagram, reciting prayers to the special forces, and sharing video
monologues praising the brotherhood of people from around the world who had
gathered in a training base near the Ukrainian city of Lviv to kill Russian
“communists.” The group’s inexperience was demonstrated by the fact that
most of their social media posts included their geo-location information.

This all changed following a missile attack on the training base near Lviv
on March 13, after which a series of more humble photos and videos began
cropping up on their Twitter and Instagram feeds.

>From across the Polish border, Jefferson Kleidian posted a selfie
brandishing an injured pinky finger and thanking God for one more day on
Earth.

Andre Hack posted that he had lost friends at the base.
Twenty-eight-year-old shooting-range instructor and Bolsonaro fanatic Tiago
Rossi tweeted a video
<https://twitter.com/freedomrideblog/status/1503420287483797505> saying he
had fled the base immediately before the missile strike. “Our entire legion
was destroyed, the information I have is that everyone died. You don’t
understand what it’s like to have a fighter jet fire a missile at you. I
didn’t think it was a real war,” he said.

What were these Brazilians doing in Ukraine in the first place? In order to
answer that question, one has to look back at the resurgence of Nazi
ideology in Brazil and the deepening relationship between Brazil’s neo-Nazi
groups, which have grown by a staggering 270% since Jair Bolsonaro took
office in 2019, and Ukrainian neo-Nazi organizations like Azov.

During the 1930s, Brazil was home to the largest German Nazi party outside
of Europe
<https://web.archive.org/web/20090318124058/http://veja.abril.com.br/141101/p_081.html>
and
had a much larger indigenous fascist movement, called the *integralistas*,
that tried to enact a coup
<https://cpdoc.fgv.br/producao/dossies/AEraVargas1/anos37-45/PoliticaAdministracao/LevanteIntegralista>
in
1938. The coup was crushed but the ideology lived on in a country that
already suffered from severe structural racism as the last place in the
Americas to eradicate slavery.

Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolsonaro – who made it into power only
after a joint U.S. DOJ/Brazilian Public Prosecutors operation
<https://www.brasilwire.com/us-doj-clarifies-role-in-lava-jato/> jailed the
leading 2018 presidential candidate on false charges
<https://mronline.org/2021/05/08/how-the-u-s-taught-judge-moro-to-take-down-lula/>
—
began his career as an army captain during a sub-fascist military
dictatorship
<https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745335490/the-washington-connection-and-third-world-fascism/>,
which employed Gestapo tactics like death squads and torture against labor
union leaders, intellectuals and communists.

As a congressman in 2004, Bolsonaro wrote a series of letters to neo-Nazi
websites <https://theintercept.com/2021/07/28/carta-bolsonaro-neonazismo/>,
saying things like “you guys are the reason I am in politics.” Grounded on
a platform of anti-communist hate speech, his presidency unleashed a flood
of public support for fascism, which had been latent since the end of the
dictatorship. According to Brazilian law, Nazi organizations are illegal,
but according to anthropology professor and Nazi researcher Adriana Dias,
there are currently 530 neo-Nazi cells operating in Brazil
<https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/com-mais-de-530-celulas-concentradas-no-sul-sudeste-brasil-o-pais-onde-extremismo-de-direita-mais-avanca-25411410>.
Since 2012, these organizations have had increasing interactions with
Ukrainian Nazi organizations, which have resulted in Brazilian Nazis
gaining combat experience with Azov in Donbas and a campaign to “Ukraine
Brazil” run by a right-wing extremist faction of Bolsonaro supporters.
The Role Of A FEMENazi

Sara Fernanda Giromini was a teenager involved in Nazi skinhead gangs in
Sao Paulo when she opened a VK account and made friends with Russian and
Ukrainian neo-Nazis and learned about  FEMEN <https://femen.org/> after
reading about it on Facebook. VK is a popular Russia-run social media
platform.

Giromini first visited Ukraine in 2011, where she met and trained with
FEMEN leaders and other actors from the Ukrainian far-right. After
returning to Brazil in 2012, she started calling herself Sarah Winter in
homage to the English fascist of the 1920s.

After a series of topless protests transformed Giromini into a celebrity,
FEMEN Brazil imploded in less than a year. Bruna Themis, number two in the
organization, resigned and gave a series of whistleblowing interviews
<https://operamundi.uol.com.br/politica-e-economia/24385/femen-brazil-nao-tem-propostas-feministas-acusa-ex-numero-2-do-grupo>,
saying that the Ukrainians demanded they kick out any Brazilian woman who
didn’t meet their sexist physical appearance and weight standards; that the
real leader of the group was a minor far-right politician named Andrey
Cuia, who frequently traveled back and forth to Ukraine; and that Cuia and
Giromini were ripping off donors and keeping the money for themselves.

Shortly afterward, FEMEN Ukraine announced that FEMEN Brazil had nothing to
do with them, despite the fact that Giromini was arrested during a FEMEN
protest
<https://veja.abril.com.br/mundo/brasileira-e-presa-durante-protesto-feminista-na-eurocopa/>
in
Kiev in 2012. Giromini now says that during her time in FEMEN, they paid
her $2,000 per protest
<https://blogs.oglobo.globo.com/sonar-a-escuta-das-redes/post/streaming-conservador-lanca-documentario-sobre-sara-winter-leia-critica.html>
.

According to Professor Dias, after FEMEN folded, Giromini, who remains
friends with several leaders of Azov and the Phoenix Battalion on her VK
account to this day, began inviting Ukrainian neo-Nazis to Brazil.

In 2016, civil police in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, home to
several waves of German and Italian immigration and a long fascist
tradition of its own, carried out an investigation against neo-Nazi groups
that were planning violent attacks against Afro-Brazilians, Jews, and LGBT+
and discovered that the Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia Misanthropic Division
was recruiting Brazilian Nazis in seven cities in the state to serve as
volunteer combatants with Azov in the Donbas region. The investigation,
which was dubbed “Operation Azov
<https://gauchazh.clicrbs.com.br/especiais/neonazismonors/militantes-do-rs-na-ucrania.html>,”
received ample coverage in the Brazilian
<https://g1.globo.com/rs/rio-grande-do-sul/noticia/2016/12/operacao-combate-recrutamento-de-neonazistas-do-rs-para-ucrania.html>
 and  Israeli press
<https://www.timesofisrael.com/brazilian-neo-nazis-recruited-to-fight-ukrainian-civil-war/>
at
the time.

After leading candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was arbitrarily
imprisoned during the 2018 election campaign, Bolsonaro was swept into
office on a wave of Nazi-influenced anti-communist propaganda that led him
to label any person or organization that ever criticized him as a
communist. At one point he even called the oldest conservative magazine in
the world, *The Economist*, “The Communist
<https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/colunas/nelsondesa/2018/09/the-economist-sai-em-defesa-do-liberalismo-e-vira-the-communist.shtml>
.”

Giromini, by this time a vocal member of the anti-abortion movement,
campaigned heavily for Bolsonaro. After he took office in 2019, she began a
public call to “Ukrainize Brazil.” Many of the most reactionary public
figures associated with Bolsonaro, like openly fascist Rio de Janeiro
lawmaker Daniel Silveira
<https://revistaforum.com.br/politica/2020/4/28/deputado-bolsonarista-sugere-modelo-neonazista-para-brasil-73964.html>,
joined the campaign. Professor Dias says, “Azov’s tactic has always been to
bring a group of 300 people to a city and, through training activities with
locals, start a right-wing extremist movement.” Giromini relocated to
Brasilia and started an organization called the “group of 300” to help
build support for the Ukrainization of Brazil.

In 2020, after the Brazilian Supreme Court blocked one of Bolsonaro’s
attempts to bypass the Constitution, Giromini’s group of 300 camped out on
the national esplanade, held a series of tiki torch-wielding protests in
front of the court building and shot fireworks at it. Posing for selfies
with guns, she cited for violence against Supreme Court Ministers; on July
15, 2020, the Supreme Court ordered her arrest
<https://veja.abril.com.br/politica/bolsonarista-sara-winter-e-presa-pela-pf-em-brasilia/>.
After two weeks in jail, she was given an ankle bracelet, transferred to
house arrest, and ordered to stay off social media. She has been there ever
since.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian flags and symbols of the Ukrainian far-right became
more and more popular at pro-Bolsonaro rallies. In 2020, a former soldier
and security consultant named Alex Silva, who has been living in Kiev since
2014 and says he is a member of an “auxiliary volunteer police force”
there, triggered a media controversy that led to an official disclaimer
from the Ukrainian Embassy when he hoisted a red and black Pravyi Sektor
flag
<https://veja.abril.com.br/brasil/a-ucranizacao-a-brasileira-de-grupos-bolsonaristas/>
onto
a sound truck at a Bolsonaro rally and was photographed walking through the
crowd wearing it like a cape. Silva, now back in Kyiv, has become another
internet celebrity to the Brazilian far-right, posting videos of his armed
voluntary patrols of Kyiv as recently as this week
<https://noticias.uol.com.br/internacional/ultimas-noticias/2022/03/08/voluntario-brasileiro-filma-ronda-kiev-conflito-ucrania.htm>
.
Ukrainizing Brazil

Leonel Radde is a Porto Alegre city councilor who spends a lot of his time
investigating neo-Nazi groups in Rio Grande do Sul. Asked about connections
between Brazilian and Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups, he said:

We see clearly that the majority of Nazi groups here use Ukrainian design
elements. They are using the same symbols – mainly the black sun — and they
all use this discourse of Ukrainizing Brazil. They also talk among
themselves about adapting Ukrainian tactics for setting up camps and
occupying public squares and things like that. They are definitely trying
to copy what happened in Ukraine in 2014. We are trying to figure out how
much they are just copying things they see on the internet or if they are
being financed from the Ukraine, although Sarah Winter spent time near
Porto Alegre doing organizing work and she started this whole thing.”

Meanwhile, far-right social media influencers like Alex Silva are still
sending reports from Ukraine. Last week the Ukrainian Embassy in Brasilia
said it received 100 requests from Brazilians asking to volunteer for the
Ukrainian army, and *UOL* reports
<https://noticias.uol.com.br/internacional/ultimas-noticias/2022/03/08/voluntario-brasileiro-filma-ronda-kiev-conflito-ucrania.htm>
that
analysis of *bolsonarista* social media groups shows that 500 others are
planning to go.

Whether the missile attack near Lviv and reports coming in from
scared-looking former Brazilian combatants who have escaped to Poland will
change any of that has yet to be seen. Regardless, it is clear that
political indoctrination from Ukrainian Nazis has taken hold among Brazil’s
growing far-right and will be a factor in this year’s presidential election
season.
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