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Pro-Russian mayor of Ukrainian town wounded

KHARKIV, Ukraine -- The pro-Russian mayor of the town of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine was in critical condition on Monday after he was shot while riding his bicycle, local officials said.

Gennady Kernes was “hit by a bullet in the back” during an attack by an unidentified gunman, a town hall official said. “He is being operated on. Doctors are fighting for his life.”

Kernes was on his bicycle when the attack occurred, according to his entourage.

The mayor is a colorful character, who has a criminal record for theft and fraud and is not known for tolerating dissent.

He is under investigation on accusations of kidnapping and torture but has clung onto his post in Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million not far from the border with Russia.

Kernes was known for a particularly robust crackdown on pro-Western demonstrations, banning any protests to “avoid the spread of infectious diseases.”

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