The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine, was shot in the back Monday and peaceful pro-Ukraine protesters were attacked in what some are calling efforts by Russia to destabilize the area.
Kharkiv is the country’s second-largest city with about 1.5 million people.
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Ukrainian Mayor Hennady Kernes was in grave but stable condition after having surgery, according to The Associated Press
The European Union and President Barack Obama separately added officials to their lists of sanctioned Russians in an effort to protest Russia’s “meddling” in Ukraine, the AP reported. In addition to individuals, Obama also levied new sanctions on 17 companies with links to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times described Kernes as a politician who has tried to “steer a middle course”
in the Ukrainian situation. He has supported a united Ukraine and is against Russian involvement in his country’s politics, but he also has criticized the government in Kiev.
“People ask if I like the new authorities, but I prefer a different question: Does the new government actually like our people, with their demands, their desires, their dreams?” Kernes told the Times in a March.
The city of Kharkiv is in eastern Ukraine, an area seeing pro-Russia groups seizing buildings and setting up roadblocks. Still, the city until now had primarily stayed out of the insurgency.
After hearing of the attack on Kernes, as well as other events, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the situation “indicates that it isn’t possible to speak of any ‘peaceful’ pre-election campaign in Ukraine,” the AP said.
Escalation of the pro-Russia insurgency has seen a rise in kidnappings,. About 40 people have been taken and are being held in Slovyansk. Those kidnapped include seven military observers from the Oragnization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, the AP said.
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