As Ukraine’s minister for internal affairs, Denys Monastyrsky oversaw the country’s police, its national guard and border patrol units including tens of thousands of combatants who have fought in the war, although some of the direct command had transferred to the army.
He was among the 18 people killed when a helicopter crashed near Kyiv on Wednesday morning, and was the highest-ranking Ukrainian government official to die since Russia’s invasion began in February last year.
Throughout the war, risks to Mr. Monastyrsky’s life abounded. He was among the top security officials who remained in Kyiv, the capital, with President Volodymyr Zelensky in the first days of the war as Russia’s army bore down on the city.
He was also a member of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, a policymaking body that set wartime goals.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has overseen rescue efforts after missile strikes in Ukrainian cities, including a frantic attempt this week to find survivors in the rubble of an apartment block that was hit by a Russian strike in the city of Dnipro, killing at least 45 people. The ministry has also supervised teams clearing mines from recaptured territory, an operation in which dozens of people have been killed or maimed each month.
Mr. Monastyrsky, who worked as a lawyer before becoming a lawmaker, was elected to Parliament in 2019 as a member of Mr. Zelensky’s political party, Servant of the People.
His focus had been overhauling the country’s Soviet-legacy law enforcement system to stamp out corruption and provide better service. But, as with others in Mr. Zelensky’s government, he was thrust into a wartime leadership role after the Russian invasion in February last year.
“He was a very modest person, very brave,” Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, said of Mr. Monastyrsky on Wednesday. “There were no scandals around him. He was a good guy.”