A Czech volunteer who goes by the alias “The Phantom” has claimed to have raised over CZK 3 million for Ukraine, even though he himself is facing 46 foreclosures and owes a similar amount.
Ukrainian authorities have apprehended a 44-year-old Czech volunteer known as Petr Fantom, who gained media and social media attention for fundraising efforts to support Ukraine.
Petr introduces himself on the For a Free Ukraine website, stating, “My name is Petr, and I am a Czech living in Ukraine. I’ve handled more than 350 tonnes of humanitarian aid, delivering it to the most dangerous front-line areas. I’ve been involved in evacuating dozens of people and pets. Through my efforts, I’ve managed to collect over three million crowns.”
He provides various methods for people to send money, with some transparent accounts under different names, making it difficult to trace the ultimate recipients.
Investigations by Seznam Zprav have revealed that Petr Fantom is actually Petr Stoja, who was declared a fugitive by Czech police on January 18, 2019. The exact reason for the search has not been disclosed by the police, but public records show that he has 46 foreclosure cases against him, amounting to over CZK 2.6 million.
Vladimír Řepka, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, confirmed that the person in question was detained in Ukraine and that the ministry had requested his pre-trial detention for extradition to the Czech Republic. The duration of his custody in Ukraine remains uncertain.
“The person has been detained based on an international arrest warrant issued by the District Court in Zlín, and we have no information about any other criminal investigations or trials in Ukraine,” Řepka added.
Petr Stoja was taken into custody by Ukrainian police last Wednesday, around 2 am, near the town of Volovets, close to Mukachevo in western Ukraine.
Czech volunteer Kateřina, who had known Petr Stoja (alias Petr Fantom) for approximately two months, was present when he was detained. She described the situation, stating, “Petr was driving me from Mykolayiv to Uzhhorod, where I wanted to cross the border into Slovakia and fly home from Košice. It was at the third checkpoint when they stopped us and identified him. He kept insisting that he was a volunteer, pointing to a yellow and blue Ukraine tattoo on his hand, along with the word ‘volunteer’ in Ukrainian. However, this time, they instructed him to park the car and exit.”
The police used their vehicles to block their car and then transported them to a nearby police station, where they waited for further procedures.
Initially, Kateryna believed that Stoya’s detention was due to his aggressive and hysterical behavior. However, the police soon approached her.
“They showed me a screenshot from Interpol on my phone with his photo, name, and the fact that he was wanted. I was completely shocked and had no idea what it was about or what was happening,” said Kateřina.
They spent the night at the police station, and in the morning, the court ordered Peter Stoja into custody. Kateryna returned home, and Stoja’s lawyer declined to make an official statement without the client’s consent.