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Ukrainian mayor undergoes second operation at Israel’s Rambam Hospital

JTA

April 30, 2014 | 11:36 am

<em>Gennady Kernes, the pro-Russian mayor of Kharkiv, in Kharkiv on Aug. 5, 2010. Photo by Stringer/Reuters</em>

Gennady Kernes, the pro-Russian mayor of Kharkiv, in Kharkiv on Aug. 5, 2010. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city underwent a second surgery in Israel for a gunshot wound from a suspected assassination attempt.

Gennady Kernes, who heads the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was operated on Wednesday at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, according to hospital spokesman David Ratner. Ratner said Wednesday evening that Kernes was in “serious” condition.

Kernes also underwent surgery Tuesday at Rambam. He was not operated on at Haifa’s Elisha Hospital, as originally reported by JTA, but was stabilized there after being flown to Israel early on Tuesday morning. He was transferred later on Tuesday to Rambam.

Kernes was flown to Israel on Tuesday morning after being shot in the neck a day earlier during his routine morning jog.

“Israeli doctors arrived last night, praised our doctors’ work and recommended he be transferred for treatment in Israel,” Kharkiv City Council member Yuri Sidorenko told Interfax Ukraine. “The doctors deemed his condition to be safe for travel and at 3:20 a.m. his plane took off from Kharkiv.”

Ukrainian officials have opened an investigation into the shooting, according to Interfax.

Ukraine has seen deadly clashes between political opponents since the eruption in November of a revolution that started with protests over then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s perceived pro-Russian policies. Yanukovych was ousted from power in February and replaced with an interim government that has scheduled elections for next month.

Kernes reportedly has played a major role in the confrontations between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in the city. He had been a supporter of Yanukovych and then changed his stance, saying he does not support the pro-Russia insurgents or the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Several anti-Semitic attacks, including two stabbings and two attempts to torch synagogues, have occurred since November in Ukraine, a country with relatively low levels of anti-Semitic violence.

According to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the 2009 election campaign in which Kernes became mayor was mired with anti-Semitic hate speech targeting him and other Jewish candidates.

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