Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyy was killed on Wednesday morning when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed near a children’s nursery on the outskirts of Kyiv.
The aircraft was flying towards front-line positions in Ukraine’s east when it came down, officials said.
There was no immediate official statement on the cause of the incident.
Monastyrskyy’s deputy Yevhen Yenin and Interior Ministry State Secretary Yurii Lubkovych were also killed.
At least 14 people died overall, including those on board and a child who was on the ground, Ukraine’s emergency services said.
Monastyrskyy was in charge of the Ukrainian police and other emergency services. He is the highest-profile Ukrainian casualty since Russia launched its invasion nearly a year ago.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Monastyrskyy was born in the city of Khmelnytskyi, in western Ukraine, on June 12, 1980. At the time, the city and Ukraine more widely formed part of the Soviet Union.
- He died on the morning of January 18, aged 42.
- Patrick Bury, senior lecturer in security at the United Kingdom’s University of Bath and a former NATO analyst, said the interior minister’s demise would be a significant “blow” to Ukraine and its leadership.
- “He is the first secretary who ran a ministry on a day-to-day basis to have been killed during the war, so essentially some Ukrainians are saying this is like losing the top of the ministry by decapitation,” Bury told Al Jazeera.
- Monastyrskyy graduated from the Khmelnytsky Institute of Regional Management and Law in 2002, before beginning a career as a lawyer.
- In 2003, Monastyrskyy took up a role as an assistant consultant to a Ukrainian member of parliament. In 2016, he joined the Ukrainian Institute of the Future, an independent think-tank.
- Monastyrskyy worked as an expert with the think-tank for three years, researching reform issues related to the country’s legal system.
- In 2019, he joined the campaign team for then-presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Two months after Zelenskyy was elected president in May 2019, Monastyrskyy was voted in as a member of Ukraine’s parliament.
- As a member of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party, he served as chair of the parliamentary committee on law enforcement.
- Monastyrskyy was appointed as Ukraine’s interior minister in July 2021, six months before Russia launched its invasion.
- As interior minister, he was in charge of the Ukrainian police and other emergency services. In the months after Moscow’s February 2022 invasion, Monastyrskyy regularly updated the Ukrainian public on casualties caused by Russian attacks.
- On Wednesday, Zelenskyy hailed Monastyrskyy as a “true patriot” and said his death and the loss of others in the helicopter crash was a “terrible tragedy” that caused “unspeakable” pain.
- Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal echoed Zelenskyy’s message and described Monastyrskyy’s death as a “great loss” for Ukraine’s government.