Woman, 70, Hitchhikes Daily to Bucha to Retrieve Her Son

Nadiya Trubchaninova has found his body but still lacks permission to take him home
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2022 1:30 PM CDT
Woman, 70, Hitchhikes Daily to Bucha to Retrieve Her Son
A portrait of Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, next to her son Vadym, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers last March 30 in Bucha, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

This is not where Nadiya Trubchaninova thought she would find herself at 70 years of age, hitchhiking daily from her village to the shattered town of Bucha trying to bring her son's body home for burial. The questions wear her down, the AP reports, heavy like the winter coat and boots she still wears against the chill. Why had Vadym gone to Bucha, where the Russians were so much harsher than the ones occupying their village? Who shot him as he drove on Yablunska Street, where so many bodies were found? And why did she lose her son just one day before the Russians withdrew?

Now 48-year-old Vadym is in a black bag in a refrigerated truck. After word reached her that he had been found and buried by strangers in a yard in Bucha, she has spent more than a week trying to bring him home for a proper grave. But he is one body among hundreds, part of an investigation into war crimes that has grown to global significance. She last saw her son on March 30. She thought he was taking a walk as part of his recovery from a stroke. She wonders whether he went driving to search for a cellphone signal to call his own son to wish him happy birthday. She wonders whether Vadym thought the Russians in Bucha were like those occupying their village, who told them they wouldn't be harmed if they didn’t fight back.

More than a week later, she found his makeshift grave with the help of a stranger with the same name and age as her son. The next day, she spotted the body bag containing Vadym at a Bucha cemetery. He always stood out as tall, and his foot stuck out from a hole in the corner. Worried about losing him, she found a scarf and tied it there as her marker. She is desperate to find an official to hurry the process and issue the documents to release him. The cemetery where she wants to place her son can be seen from Vadym's old room, where his canes are still propped against the door. On Thursday, she waited outside the Bucha morgue again. After another day without progress, she sat on a bench in the sun. "I just wanted to sit in nice weather," she said. "I'm going to go home. Tomorrow I'll come again."

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.