Report: Jewish Ukrainian mayor regains consiousness

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city regained consciousness in an Israeli hospital following what is believed to be an assassination attempt.

Gennady Kernes, who heads the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, awoke Monday at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa after two surgeries, Kharkov’s chief rabbi and Chabad emissary, Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, told Chabad.org.

Kernes was shot in the neck on April 28 during his routine morning jog. He was airlifted to Israel for treatment.

Ukrainian officials reportedly have opened an investigation into the shooting.

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.

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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