AN urgent appeal has been launched to bring home an elderly Spanish aid volunteer who has been ‘forcibly disappeared’ inside the Russian penal system.
Mariano García Calatayud, 75, was kidnapped by Russian soldiers from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson on March 19, 2022 – one month after Putin’s full-scale invasion.
The valenciano was reportedly being held incommunicado in Simferopol on the occupied island of Crimea, where, distressingly, former prisoners claimed they had witnessed him being tortured by prison guards.
As well as bearing numerous bruises and wounds, they reported he had been savaged by dogs and electrocuted. The guards even cleaned out his bank accounts, they claimed.
Russian prison authorities only officially acknowledged they had him in their clutches in April 2023 – without providing any legal justifications for holding him.
Now Amnesty International are stating the Russians no longer ‘know of his whereabouts’ – and even suggest he ‘left Crimea’ on 1 June, 2023 – raising dark fears about Garcia’s wellbeing.
The human rights NGO are urging people to write to the Russian prosecutor general and demand information on Calatayud’s whereabouts and to ensure his safety.
Garcia, who first went to Ukraine in 2014 in pursuit of love, is reported to be in poor health and suffer from heart problems
Since he was snatched and thrown into a Russian military vehicle in a square in Kherson, neither his Ukrainian wife nor any of his friends have been able to see him.
He has a sister and son still living in Spain.
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