Ex-Ukrainian minister under investigation after helicopter crash

Ukrainian security officials search the home of former interior minister Arsen Avakov in connection with the investigation into the crash of an Airbus helicopter that killed 14 people.

Ukraine’s former interior minister Arsen Avakov said on Monday that his home had been searched in connection with the crash of an Airbus helicopter last month that killed Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi and other top ministry officials. .

“They look at contracts to buy Airbus helicopters from six years ago,” Avakov said. “Obviously they found nothing. The contracts have been approved by the government and parliament.”

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has not yet commented on this information. The head of Ukraine’s ruling party later confirmed that Avakov’s home had been searched.

Former Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov at an event in the capital Kiev 2019. Photo: Reuters.

Former Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov at an event in the capital Kiev 2019. Photo: Reuters.

Avakov, 59, resigned as Ukraine’s interior minister in July 2021 after a scandalous tenure. Before resigning, he was one of the country’s most powerful officials, serving as interior minister for more than seven years.

Avakov and his associates are accused of being involved in many corruption scandals. He denied these allegations. In 2017, Avakov’s son Oleksandr and former deputy interior minister Serhiy Chebotar were arrested and charged with embezzlement of $380,000 in a case involving the supply of overpriced backpacks to the Interior Ministry.

In 2018, the governments of Ukraine and France signed an agreement in Paris with a total value of more than 608 million USD on official support in the creation of a unified system of air security and civil protection. Under the terms of the agreement, France will supply Ukraine with 37 Airbus helicopters in two phases, and then another 18 helicopters. Among these are 21 H225 helicopters, which have a capacity of more than 10 tons.

On January 18, a helicopter of the State Emergency Service carrying the Interior Minister and senior officials crashed in Brovary, Kiev province. A total of 14 victims were killed, including 10 people on the helicopter and 4 people on the ground, including a child. The crashed helicopter was handed over to Ukraine by France in August 2020.

Ukraine’s security services then opened an investigation into the cause of the accident. Possibilities taken into account by investigators were a flight safety breach, technical malfunction, and intentional action.

Helicopter crashes into building in Ukraine

The scene of a helicopter crashing into an apartment building in the city of Brovary, Kiev province, Ukraine on January 18. Video: Twitter/Clashreport.

Huyen Le (Theo Pravda, Reuters, Kyiv Independent)

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