Zelenskiy attends memorial service for Ukraine helicopter crash victims


A tearful Volodymyr Zelenskiy attended a memorial service on Saturday for seven senior interior ministry officials killed in a helicopter crash this week.

The former interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and five other high-ranking officials were killed when their French-made Super Puma helicopter crashed into a nursery on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv in foggy conditions on Wednesday.

Another seven people were also killed, including a child. Officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

The helicopter went down days after at least 45 people were killed in a Russian missile attack that partially levelled a block of flats in the south-eastern city of Dnipro.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces are fending off an unrelenting Russian onslaught in the east, where Moscow has expended huge resources for incremental advances 11 months into its full-scale invasion.

“The indescribable sadness is covering the soul,” the Ukrainian president wrote in a Telegram post on Saturday. “Ukraine is losing its best sons and daughters every day.”

Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, paid their respects to the victims’ relatives inside the Ukrainian House cultural centre in central Kyiv. A crowd of mourners snaked outside toward Independence Square.

The country’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, described Monastyrskyi’s death as a huge loss.

“If it hadn’t been for Monastyrskyi, everything could have been completely different,” he told Ukrainian media, referring to the resistance Ukraine has mounted since Moscow launched its invasion on 24 February last year.

“He is a true hero of this country.”

Monastyrskyi had been flying to a location near the frontline, a police spokesperson said on Thursday.

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( With inputs from : www.theguardian.com )

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