Shot Ukrainian Mayor Hospitalized in Israel

Kharkiv mayor, who is critically wounded, is out of surgery and currently in stable condition, Haifa hospital says.

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Hennady KernesCredit: Reuters

A mayor of an east Ukrainian city who was shot and critically wounded in his back Monday, was flown to Israel and is being treated in a hospital in Haifa.

Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was out of surgery, Haifa's Elisha Hospital said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. It said the operation was successful and he will not require further surgery.

"Israeli doctors arrived last night, praised our doctors' work and recommended he be transferred for treatment in Israel. The doctors deemed his condition to be safe for travel and at 3:20 A.M. his plane took off from Kharkiv," city council member Yuri Sidorenko told Ukraine's Interfax.

Kernes, 54, who turned against his former Russian backers and began siding with Ukrainian nationalists following the February coup in Kiev, was shot Monday.

The shooting came a day after Ukrainian nationalists clashed with pro-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, leaving 14 people injured.

Kernes is Jewish, but there has been no mention of an anti-Semitic motive in the shooting, and he was a key figure in the middle of the confrontations between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in the city.

Kharkiv is part of the region in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian gunmen have either seized government buildings or staged protests to demand greater autonomy or outright annexation by Russia. Pro-Russian militants hold at least 10 cities in the east as well as government buildings in several others.

In March, Kernes was placed under house arrest while police investigated his alleged connections to kidnapping and threats.

The mayor's political background was pro-Russian, but he switched sides under pressure from anti-Russian forces that took power in Kiev. He had been a major supporter of former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, but both of them fled to Russia after anti-Russian protesters overthrew the Kiev regime. Kernes returned to Kharkiv shortly afterward, saying he no longer supported Yanukovych.