Mayor in eastern Ukraine shot in the back

In this Feb. 22, 2014 photo, Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, takes part at a meeting in Kharkiv city hall, in Ukraine. Kernes was shot in the back Monday morning, April 28, 2014, his office said. (AP Photo/Olga Ivashchenko)
In this Feb. 22, 2014 photo, Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, takes part at a meeting in Kharkiv city hall, in Ukraine. Kernes was shot in the back Monday morning, April 28, 2014, his office said. (AP Photo/Olga Ivashchenko)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city is reported to be in “grave, but stable” condition after being shot in the back.

City hall officials in Kharkiv say the mayor (Hennady Kernes) was shot while cycling on the outskirts of the city this morning and underwent surgery.

Officials have not commented on who could be behind the attack, but the mayor could have angered both sides. He was a staunch opponent of the movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February and was widely viewed as the organizer who sent activists to Kiev from eastern Ukraine to harass those demonstrators. But he has taken a softer stance toward the new Kiev government and earlier this month insisted he does not support pro-Russia insurgents and backs a united Ukraine.

One presidential candidate says the mayor was deliberately shot in an effort to destabilize the entire city of Kharkiv.

Meanwhile, pro-Russia insurgents seized more government buildings in eastern Ukraine today as the U.S. and the European Union hit Russia with fresh sanctions for allegedly fomenting the unrest.

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