Ukrainian Jewish mayor undergoes surgery in Israel after surviving assassination attempt

Gennady Kernes undergoes hours long surgery for gunshot wound and is said to be in stable condition.

Ukrainian Mayor Gennady Kernes (photo credit: COURTESY WWW.CITY.KHARKOV.UA)
Ukrainian Mayor Gennady Kernes
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.