Jewish mayor of Kharkiv stable after surgery in Israel


Mystery still shrouds the identity of the attackers who shot and severely wounded the Jewish mayor of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

On Monday night Gennadiy Kernes was flown to Israel, where his condition was stabilised after surgery in Haifa's Elisha hospital.

Mr Kernes was a supporter of the former government of deposed President Viktor Yanukovich and was also accused by some in the Maidan movement that spearheaded the revolution in Kiev two months ago of recruiting some of the militia-members who tried to violently put down the Maidan protests.

However, since the revolution and the ensuing hostility between the new government in Kiev and the Russian government and its supporters, has pledged his allegiance to Kiev.

While Kharkiv is at the centre of pro-Russian activity in east Ukraine, the city has largely withstood the violent demonstrations of that have rocked other eastern cities and the government has remained in control.

Unknown assailants shot him in Kharkiv on Monday morning and, since then, there have been accusations from both sides – with pro-Russian leaders claiming he was shot by elements from within the Maidan movement and the pro-Kiev faction saying that it was a Russia-engineered provocation.

A flamboyant and controversial figure in Ukrainian politics, the wealthy Mr Kernes has a penchant for posting online topless photographs of himself working out and in the company of wild animals. While he has not been deeply involved in Ukrainian Jewish communal life, when he ran for Kharkiv mayor in 2009 an antisemitic campaign was launched against him by political opponents.

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