The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, is slowly recovering in an Israeli hospital, officials say.
Gennady Kernes, 54, was flown to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center on Tuesday after being shot in the back by an unidentified gunman on Monday while he was going for his morning swim.
On Wednesday, he underwent surgery for his gunshot. According to hospital officials, Kernes has now been taken off a respirator and is fully conscious.
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 bris 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 Rabbi Moskowitz.