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Meet Thiago Brennand, Brazil's Answer To Andrew Tate

Here's the Brazilian media spectacle of brazen masculinity, white privilege — and, finally, an arrest.

Man smoking a cigar

Thiago Brennand, Brazilian businessman smoking a cigar.

Jessica Santos

SÂO PAULO — Behold Thiago Brennand: Brazil's own rich white guy boasting an arsenal of 67 guns, accused of attacking a woman in public — and he's now become a very public spectacle. For a foreign reader it can recall the saga of Andrew Tate

First, Brennand's story in brief. The Brazilian businessman made headlines in 2022 when a video surfaced that showed him assaulting a model, Helena Gomes, inside a São Paulo gym.

After Gomes filed a complaint, at least 11 other women came forward to the São Paulo Public Prosecutor's Office to report that they had been assaulted by Brennand. In September, Brazilian police issued a warrant for his arrest – but the businessman fled to the United Arab Emirates, where he was briefly detained before posting bail and being released the following day.

In March, Brazil issued a new arrest warrant for Brennand. He spent eight months living in the UAE before the country approved Brazil’s extradition request. He was flown back on April 29 to São Paulo, where he was jailed and will be tried for rape – the first of several charges he faces.

Prior to the 2022 incident, Brennand was also investigated in 2020 for assaulting his son, but the case was closed after his son retracted the accusation. Brennand has been involved in other aggression incidents as well, including at equestrian clubs.

What's he wearing?

Some of Brazil’s most widely-read media have reported on Brennand’s prison haircut and outfit – focusing on the looks of someone accused of sexual abuse, while regular incarcerated people in Brazil live with rats, diseases, violence and daily rights violations.

He was accused of raping women and tattooing them with his initials, as if they were cattle. And until now, nothing happened to him. He is accused of using a stun gun against his own son, and nothing happened to him.

And when, after spending months holed up in another country, he is deported and arrested, suddenly the press is interested in poor prison conditions. What can we call this, if not white privilege?

Let’s do a thought exercise, reader: if Thiago were a black man, do you think his arrest would have the same media importance? Do you think people would talk about over-crowded prisons, or how he “escaped” having his hair cut when he was arrested, or even about the “look” he will wear? Do you think he would get so much attention from the mainstream media? If he attacked someone at the gym, would security guards have just watched without reacting? I do not think so.

Miliatary and Police officers arresting Thiago Brennand, Brazilian businessman.

Arrest of Brazilian businessman Thiago Brennand following a complaint lodged in 2022.

Metrópoles via Twitter

Prison wifi

Fausto Salvadori, Ponte's editorial director, noted that the two factors that make the hegemonic media pay attention to the prison system are either during prison rebellions, or when someone who "does not belong to that universe" – white, rich, from “different” neighborhoods – ends up there after committing a crime.

But while the coup plotters arrested for the Brazilian Congress attack on January 8 complained about lack of Wi-Fi in jail, in 2022, mothers reported to Ponte that food they sent to their incarcerated daughters had been eaten by mice.

While the media writes about Brennand's lack of a haircut, prisoners denounced punishment for refusing compulsory hair and beard cuts. The São Paulo Public Defender's Office filed a public civil action asking the government to stop the action – and is also taking on water rationing, which affects 70% of prisons in São Paulo.

Dear reader, don’t be mistaken: there are bodies made to have their human rights respected, and their stories publicized to exhaustion in prime time. And others who may die in subhuman conditions and be forgotten. While some, like Thiago Brennand, get newspaper front pages focusing on their prison look, there is a whole population just trying to survive in terrible conditions, every day.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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