SPAIN’S Foreign Ministry is looking into the arrest of a Valencian pensioner by Russian troops during a protest in the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson.

Mariano Garcia Calatayud, 73, left Spain and his home Valencian town of Carlet seven years ago to live in Ukraine.

He is the first Spaniard to be detained during the conflict which began late in February.

Spain’s embassy in Ukraine, temporarily based in Poland, is investigating the case and are in contact with his family.

Mariano created a humanitarian organisation to help citizens in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the Crimea in 2014.

A close friend in Ukraine, Olana, lost contact with him on Saturday, though his mobile phone rang until the following day.

Olana, who has worked him on providing aid, said that he attended an anti-occupation protest in Kherson which is under the control of Russian forces.

She said that he was captured and that ‘someone had seen the Russians put him in a car and take him away’.

”It was a kidnapping. You can’t say anything else, “ added Olana.

She observed that he had created a high local profile and made no secret of his disdain for Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, during several recent demonstrations.

He said recently that he was prepared to take up arms ‘if necessary’.

Olana said about the Russians that ‘they have been following him for a long time and have come for him when they have seen fit.”

Mariano refused to leave Ukraine in convoys organised by the Spanish Embassy following last month’s Russian invasion.

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