(JNS.org) The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, is in critical condition after being shot in the back by an unidentified gunman on Monday, April 28. Gennady Kernes, 54, was going for his morning swim when he was shot and was immediately rushed to a local hospital, journalist Zurab Alasania – who works for the state-run National Television Company – wrote on his Facebook account.
“The doctors are fighting to save his life,” Kernes’s spokeswoman Tatiana Gruzinsyaka said in a statement posted on the city council’s website.
Kernes had been a strong supporter of deposed pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. But since Yanukovych’s overthrow, Kernes had become more supportive of the new Ukrainian government and called for Kharkiv, which is 25 miles from the Russian border, to remain part of Ukraine.
Kernes had become more connected to Judaism in recent years, receiving a Hebrew name and a brit milah, according to Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in the city. “He’s a good friend of the Jewish community, and has helped us in many ways,” said Moskowitz, Chabad.org reported.