Jewish mayor of Ukraine city fighting for life after being shot

Kharkiv mayor Gennady Kernes speaking in February

KIEV, Ukraine — The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city was shot in the back Monday and pro-Russia insurgents seized yet another government building as tensions rose in eastern Ukraine ahead of a new round of US sanctions.

Armed insurgents tacitly backed by Moscow are seeking more autonomy in the region from the interim government in Kiev. In a bid to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama has promised to levy new sanctions on Russian individuals and companies in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged provocations in eastern Ukraine.

Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was shot in the back Monday morning, his office said. Kernes was said to be undergoing surgery and “doctors are fighting for his life,” according to the city hall.

Officials have not commented on the circumstances of the shooting and it was not clear who was behind it. Kernes was a staunch opponent of the pro-West Maidan movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February and was widely viewed as the organizer of activists sent to Kiev from eastern Ukraine to harass those demonstrators…

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