Pro-Protester Mayor Survives Assassination Attempt in East Ukraine

Ukraine State Media Blames Russia for Shooting of Pro-Russian Mayor

Kharkiv’s mayor, Gennedy Kernes, is in the hospital today after surviving an assassination attempt by attackers unknown. He was shot in the back while bicycling and is in “serious condition.”

Kernes has a long history of supporting the pro-Russia Yanukovych government, and while he has expressed support for Ukrainian “unity,” he also backed protesters in his city who called for increased autonomy.

Kharkiv’s protests didn’t last as long as those further east in Donetsk and Luhansk, and the Interior Ministry invaded Kharkiv earlier this month to end public protests against their rule.

Incredibly, despite all signs pointing to Kernes being very Russia-friendly, Ukraine’s state media immediately blamed Russia for the assassination attempt, saying they were “liquidating key centers of resistance.”

Protesters see the attack on Kernes as more likely coming from the neo-Nazi Right Sector, which has vigorously targeted protester-friendly politicians and anyone they consider an “oligarch.” Kernes would be doubly targeted by the neo-Nazi factions, as he is Jewish and also the former CEO of a major trading company in Kharkiv.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.