The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was in critical condition after being shot in the back by an unidentified gunman on Monday.
Gennady Kernes, 54, was going for his morning swim when he was shot and was immediately rushed to a local hospital, journalist Zurab Alasania — who works for the state-run National Television Company — wrote on his Facebook account. On Tuesday, Kernes was airlifted to Israel for emergency treatment.
Kernes had been a strong supporter of deposed pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. But after Yanukovych’s overthrow, Kernes became more supportive of the new Ukrainian government and called for Kharkiv, located 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 brit milah, said Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to the city, according to Chabad.org.