TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – It has been two weeks since Andy Huynh from Alabama’s Tennessee Valley and Tuscaloosa native Alex Drueke were taken prisoner by pro-Russian separatists. Drueke’s family is anxiously waiting for both to return home safely.
Dianna Shaw, Drueke’s aunt, said they are thrilled both men are alive, but cautiously optimistic.
“We’re prepared that this could take a while,” Shaw said. “We’re fully expecting the state department is doing everything they can to bring a good resolution.”
Lois (Bunny) Drueke, his mother, said the hardest part was not knowing if he was still alive. Now, Shaw said she watches the video of him saying he loves her on a loop every night.
“He told her specifically what to do and not do and one of the things he said was don’t believe anything I say in any video that I’m forced to make unless it’s I love you, Mom,” Shaw said.
According to Shaw it is important the Russian government acknowledges the men are in captivity – even if they are using what she calls inflammatory rhetoric. Shaw said a Russian spokesperson told them they don’t know where the men are, but there will be a trial for them at some point.
“I find that really hard to believe,” Shaw said. “Either they’re all knowing or all powerful or they’re not.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Tuesday saying the U.S. would support the country’s fight for justice.
“The United States is sending an unmistakable message,” Garland said. “There is no place to hide. We and our partners will pursue every avenue possible.”
Shaw continues hope and prayers that her nephew will be reunited with his mother soon.
“It’s important for us to get this word out so that Russia does understand that we’re watching and that we expect them to treat these men humanely,” Shaw said.
Shaw said Bunny is trying to live as normal of a life as possible right now and was able to spend time with her grandson on Wednesday.
Drueke’s 40th birthday will be on Friday and the family is asking that it be a day of action for Alabamians to send a postcard to local elected officials to keep working to bring both men home.