Ukraine: Jewish politician shot and near death in Kharkiv

The Jewish mayor of Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine, has been shot. According to RT – a government dominated new service of Russia – Mayor Gennady Kernes was shot in the back and taken to a local hospital at approximately 11:30 am local time. The official website of the city reported that physicians are fighting to save Kernes live. Mayor Kernes is a Jew, a fact that has heightened concerns in Ukraine that the security of the Jewish people in the Eastern European country may be in jeapordy. Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz of Kharkiv told Arutz Sheva – an Israeli news service – that local authorities are striving to catch the perpetrators of the crime. Rabbi Moskowitz said that Kernes was shot several times while on a morning jog.
 
Said Rabbi Moskowitz, "This is a very dear Jew, with a warm and loving connection to the community, and we are shocked by the assassination,” said the rabbi. “We are praying for his health – Moshe son of Hana.” 
 
In an interview with a Ukrainian news service, Yury Sapronov confirmed that Kernes’s wounds are serious. Said Sapronov, “The injury is serious. His lung is pierced and his liver pierced all the way through.” A spokesman for the mayor’s office told RT that Kernes had recently received numerous death threats. Kernes had been described as a "mini-oligarch" - a successful businessman wealthy enough to launch a career in politics. 
 
Kernes had served as mayor of Kharkiv since 2010 and was a strong supporter of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who in turn has been supported by Russian premier Vladmir Putin. However, in recent days Kernes backed away from his erstwhile support of Yanukovich and voiced support for a united Ukraine instead. The incident took place just a day after Ukrainian ultranationalists clashed with anti-government protesters in Kharkiv. Fourteen people were injured in the melee, despite Kernes’s appeals for calm.  


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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