The Jewish mayor of eastern Ukraine's biggest city underwent surgery early Wednesday morning at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center after having <a href="" target="_blank">survived an assassination attempt on Monday</a>.<br /> <br /> Gennady Kernes was <a href="" target="_blank">flown to Israel on Tuesday</a> from a hospital in his native Kharkiv after sustaining a gunshot wound in his back.<br /> <br /> He underwent a complicated hours long surgery early Wednesday and was said to be in stable condition, though he remained sedated and on a respirator at Rambam's neurosurgical intensive care unit.<br /> <br /> Kernes was originally taken to Haifa's private Elisha Hospital on Tuesday, but was transferred to Rambam for further treatment.<br /> <br /> After protesters toppled pro-Moscow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in February, Kernes, 54, supported calls for Kharkiv &ndash; one of the most pro-Russian cities in the country&rsquo;s Russian- speaking east &ndash; to become independent from Kiev&rsquo;s new, pro-European leaders.<br /> <br /> But he changed his views after being accused of fomenting separatism and when Ukrainian police forced pro-Russian protesters out of administrative buildings in the city, making it the only major eastern city to have taken back control from the armed protesters &ndash; who have demanded a referendum on independence for most of eastern Ukraine.<br /> <br /> A Ukrainian local government official said Kernes was either riding his bicycle or jogging when he was shot by someone, probably hidden in the nearby woods. His bodyguards were following in a car but were not close enough to intervene.<br /> <br /> The Ukrainian embassy in Tel Aviv said it was not involved in Kernes&rsquo;s hospitalization in Israel, and that it may have been privately arranged and funded.<br /> <br /> Ukraine&rsquo;s Interior Ministry said on Monday that they were investigating whether the shooting was in retaliation for the detention of 13 pro-Russian separatists on Sunday &ndash; on charges of possession of petrol bombs, explosives and nails.<br /> <br /> So far there have been no indications that the shooting was connected to a series of anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred in the country since the beginning of the protests last year.<br /> <br /> Local Jews in Kharkiv were praying for Kernes, the website of the Chabad-Lubavitch hassidic movement reported.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All we can do right now is pray. He&rsquo;s a good friend of the Jewish community and has helped us in many ways,&rdquo; Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, Chabad&rsquo;s emissary in the city, told the website.

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