A helicopter crashed into a kindergarten just outside Kyiv, killing at least 14 people, including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, the Kyiv Independent reported on January 18.
The tragedy took place on the morning of Wednesday, January 18, in the town of Brovary, on the eastern border of Kyiv. According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President's Office, the helicopter was on its way to a “hot spot” in the war-torn country, before crashing into the kindergarten and a residential building. All nine people on board were killed.
Among the fatalities were two other top officials, Monastyrsky’s first deputy, Yevhen Yenin, and the ministry’s secretary, Yuriy Lubkovych, as well as one child. The latest report from the State Emergency Service claims that 25 people were injured, of which 11 were children. The cause has not yet been determined.
The number of deaths was thought to be higher at first, with the State Emergency Service initially reporting that 17 people were killed. However, this number was revised following the completion of the rescue mission. Some of those injured are on life support, whilst survivors were evacuated from the crash site.
The tragedy has shaken the nation that has already suffered nearly a year of war. Monastyrsky is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to have been killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Tymoshenko said that the ministry would continue to work as normal and an emergency meeting took place shortly after the crash. The head of the National Police, Ihor Klymenko, is now serving as the acting interior minister; however, he will not serve permanently, and the ministry will consult with the parliament on who will replace Monastyrsky in the near future.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal called Monastyrsky’s death "a great loss for the government team and the entire state." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the minister and his colleague as “true patriots of Ukraine”, calling the crash a “horrible tragedy”.
Zelenskiy appointed Monastyrsky as Interior Minister in July 2021, replacing the controversial Arsen Avakov after seven years in the role. He was initially in charge of the parliament’s law enforcement committee after being elected in 2019 following the victory of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People Party. His appointment as Interior Minister was seen as Zelenskiy strengthening his power in the government, reported the Kyiv Independent.
European officials also expressed their condolences. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johannson called Monastyrsky a “true Ukrainian hero” and said his death would be a “great loss for the Ukrainian government, where he played a pivotal role.”
“It will be a great loss for all of us that worked closely with him,” she added.