Kharkov’s Jewish Mayor Gennady Kernes is slowly overcoming near-fatal wounds and is on the road to recovery, Chabad-Lubavitch officials confirm.
While jogging in the wee hours of the morning last week, the Ukrainian official was shot by masked gunmen in an assassination attempt that nearly succeeded. His liver and lungs peppered with gunshot wounds, the critically wounded mayor was whisked away by medical airlift to Israel after emergency surgery in Kharkov. Following an initial stay at the private Elisha Hospital in Haifa, he was transferred to Rambam, where he underwent a second operation.
Mayor Kernes has now regained consciousness, and though still in very serious condition, he is recovering, officials said. “He woke up and he is speaking a little,” Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and Kharkov Chief Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz told Chabad.org . “G-d willing, I hope to visit him soon. Things are still delicate, but he’s getting better and we hope he gets out of it.”
He added that a Chabad emissary in Haifa has been a regular visitor at the mayor’s bedside.
The mayor has become a casualty of the violence that is rocking the country since pro-Russian separatists began disturbances weeks ago, with apparent encouragement from the Kremlin.
The city is located within the separatist province of Donetsk, which has declared itself to be an independent nation, the new “Republic of Donetsk.”
The Kremlin recently annexed Crimea, which seceded from eastern Ukraine last month. Russia now appears to have her eyes on Odessa, the third largest city in the country — located in western Ukraine — where dozens of people were killed in violence last week.
Jewish communities in Odessa have already made evacuation plans but have yet to carry them out; Jewish residents there and in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, appear to be holding their breath and waiting to see what happens this coming weekend.
The ninth of May marks the victory of the former Soviet Union over the Nazis in World War II. It is a day that is still celebrated in eastern bloc nations and Soviet veterans — and is expected to ignite more violence in Ukraine.
It is also likely to raise anti-Semitic levels to new heights as well.