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Ukraine mayor shot

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Ukraine mayor shot

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city was shot in the back and pro-Russia insurgents seized more government buildings today as the United States hit Russia with more sanctions for allegedly fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
Armed insurgents tacitly backed by Moscow are seeking more autonomy in the region – possibly even independence or annexation with Russia. Ukraine’s acting government and the West have accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest, which they fear Moscow could use as a pretext for an invasion.
Last month, Russia annexed Crimea weeks after seizing control of the Black Sea peninsula.
In a bid to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Barack Obama’s government levied new sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies with links to Putin’s inner circle. The U.S. is also revoking licenses for high-tech items that could be used by the Russian military.
The European Union is also planning more sanctions against Russia, with ambassadors from the bloc’s 28 members meeting today in Brussels.
Hennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, was shot in the back this morning, underwent surgery and “doctors are fighting for his life”, city hall said.
Kharkiv city hall spokesman Yuri Sydorenko told the Interfax news agency Kernes was shot while cycling on the outskirts of the city. Officials have not commented on who could be behind the attack.
Interfax quoted Valery Boiko, a Kharkiv surgeon who operated on Kernes, said the mayor’s life is still under threat.
Kernes was a staunch opponent of the pro-West Maidan movement that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February and was widely viewed as the organiser of activists sent to Kiev from eastern Ukraine to harass those demonstrators.
But he has since softened his stance toward the new Kiev government. At a meeting of eastern Ukrainian leaders and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier this month, Kernes insisted he does not support the pro-Russia insurgents and backed a united Ukraine.