The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, is fighting for his life on today after unidentified gunmen shot him in the back as he went for a morning swim.
Gennady Kernes, 54, was undergoing emergency surgery in hospital, his office said. “The doctors are fighting to save his life,” said his spokeswoman Tatiana Gruzinsyaka. It was unclear who was behind the apparent assassination attempt.
Kernes was a leading figure in the Party of Regions of Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovych. The mayor had bitterly attacked the Maidan demonstrations that caused Yanukovych to flee to Russia in February. A flamboyant figure with alleged ties to organised crime in the 1990s, Kernes had backed closer relations with Moscow.
Since the change in government in Kiev, however, Kernes’s statements had become more patriotic. He stated that Kharkiv, an eastern university city 25 miles from the Russian border, should remain part of Ukraine. A billionaire, he also claimed he was himself a victim of Yanukovych’s corrupt system.
Read more at The Guardian.