Ukrainian interior minister among 18 killed in Kyiv helicopter crash

Eighteen people, including Ukraine’s interior minister and three children, were killed when a helicopter crashed near a nursery school in Kyiv on Wednesday, officials said.

Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Ukrainian capital’s regional administration, said on Telegram that 29 people had also been wounded, including 15 children, when the helicopter crashed in Brovary, an eastern suburb.

It was not immediately clear whether the crash was an accident or related to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. There has not been any fighting in the Kyiv region since April, when Russian troops retreated after failing to capture the capital.

“Today a terrible tragedy occurred in Brovary. The pain is unspeakable. The helicopter fell on the territory of one of the kindergartens,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Telegram. “I have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in co-operation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened.”

“The causes of the tragedy are being established. Whether it was sabotage, a technical malfunction, a violation of flight safety rules, we will soon find out,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an interior ministry adviser.

The helicopter belonged to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which said the crash occurred at 8.20am. A building belonging to the emergency service, a 14-storey residential building and three vehicles were damaged, along with the nursery school. A fire broke out at the scene but was extinguished an hour later, according to the SES.

Ihor Klymenko, chief of the national police, wrote on Facebook that Denys Monastyrsky, interior minister, as well as his deputy Yevhen Yenin and state secretary Yuriy Lubkovich, a senior ministry official, were killed. Zelenskyy called all three “true patriots of Ukraine”.

Klymenko said all nine adults on board the helicopter when it crashed were among the dead. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said the officials were on a “business trip” en route to one of the “hotspots” on the frontline.

Tymoshenko called for witnesses to the crash to come forward immediately to help clarify the circumstances of the tragedy.

Videos and photographs shared by authorities showed the smouldering wreckage of the helicopter near the entrance of a building and bodies on the ground nearby.

Yuriy Ignat, a spokesperson for the air force, said the helicopter was an AS332 Super Puma that had been given to Ukraine by France. Ignat said the helicopters were intended specifically for the SES and interior ministry and that they had been used for tasks “closer to hostilities”.

A lawyer by training, Monastyrsky, 42, was born in the western city of Khmelnytskyi. He was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on the ticket of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party in 2019, and served as chair of the parliamentary committee on law enforcement. He was appointed to lead the interior ministry in July 2021. He was a close ally of the president and made regular trips with Zelenskyy to visit front-line Ukrainian troops.

Yenin, 42, was also a lawyer by training. He worked in the security and foreign intelligence service before serving as a diplomat. From 2016 to 2019, he was deputy prosecutor-general, and deputy foreign minister from 2020 to 2021. He began his role at the interior ministry in September 2021.

Lubkovich, 33, from the western Ternopil region, was appointed to the ministry on November 17 2021.

Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

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