Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and two senior government officials were among 14 people who died in a helicopter crash in the Kyiv region on Wednesday, the Ukrainian police have confirmed. One child was also reported to be among the victims of the accident, which occurred in the eastern Kyiv suburb of Brovary. The cause of the crash, which also injured 25 people including 11 children, has not been confirmed. “For now, we are considering all possible versions of the helicopter crash accident,” Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said on Telegram. An investigation is being carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), he added.
Monastyrsky was traveling on an emergency services helicopter and local media reports state that at least nine of the people on board were killed in the crash. Monastyrsky’s deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among those reported dead, according to Ihor Klymenko, chief of Ukraine’s National Police. According to the governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, the helicopter crashed “near a kindergarten and a residential building. At the time of the tragedy, there were children and staff in the nursery. Everybody has been evacuated.”
Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said that “the number of reports of casualties in Brovary is increasing. Haven’t had time to recover from one tragedy, there is already another one,” he added, in reference to last Saturday’s Russian attack on a residential building in the town of Dnipro that resulted in the death of 45 civilians and the disappearance of 19 more.
Monastyrsky is the most senior Ukrainian official to have died since the start of the war with Russia almost 11 months ago and the ministry he oversaw is crucial to Kyiv’s war effort as it coordinates the police forces, the National Guard and the State Border Guard Service, with the latter two directly active in front-line combat operations.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said it is too soon to speculate on the cause of the crash and that it may take weeks to determine what happened, although visibility was reportedly very poor in the Kyiv region on Wednesday. Ukraine’s airspace is closed to civil aviation due to the danger of being shot down. Helicopter travel also remains extremely rare and is always carried out at low altitude to avoid being picked up by Russian radar.
The SSU investigation is currently working on the basis of three hypotheses, according to a press release: that the pilot failed to comply with safety regulations during the flight, that a malfunction caused a technical failure, or that it was the result of “a deliberate action to destroy the aircraft.” At a press conference near the scene, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, Andri Nebitov, said that the helicopter “was apparently flying at low altitude for a long period of time.”
Tymoshenko confirmed that Monastyrsky and his Interior Ministry colleagues had been traveling to a front-line area of the country. The Ukrainian government never reveals how high-ranking officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, travel around the country, although sources told EL PAÍS last year that part of the route that Zelenskiy takes on his trips outside the capital can be carried out by helicopter. Last September, Zelenskiy was involved in an automobile accident during a visit to eastern Ukraine.
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