28 April 2014
Last updated at 12:47
Mr Kernes has been described as a “mini-oligarch”
The mayor of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine has been shot and critically wounded amid continuing unrest in the region.
Hennadiy Kernes was reportedly shot in the back by unknown gunmen while out jogging, and is undergoing emergency surgery in hospital.
Monday also saw pro-Russian separatists seize a local government building in Kostyantynivka in eastern Ukraine.
The US and EU are preparing to impose fresh sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.
Western nations accuse Moscow of supporting separatist gunmen who are occupying official buildings in cities across eastern Ukraine.
The separatists continue to hold seven Western military observers who were seized last week in the region.
Monday saw pro-Russian separatists seize a local government building in Kostyantynivka
Administrative buildings across eastern Ukraine are in the hands of Russian-speaking, pro-Moscow elements
Authorities in Kharkiv said several people were injured when football fans marching for a united Ukraine scuffled with pro-Russia supporters in Kharkiv on Sunday
Mr Kernes used to be a supporter of the former pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych. He then dropped his support for the ousted president in favour of a united Ukraine.
He has been described as a “mini-oligarch” – a successful businessman wealthy enough to launch a career in politics.
He has been accused of starting his business career as an organised crime boss, a claim he denied while acknowledging that he was once jailed for fraud – a minor offence “partly fabricated” by his enemies, he insisted.
The head of the hospital where Mr Kernes is being treated, the Surgery Institute in Kharkiv, described his condition as “very serious”.
“Several internal organs have been injured. There’s bleeding and shock. The bleeding has been stopped, and emergency doctors are treating him for shock,” Valeriy Boyko told reporters.
Kharkiv was also the scene of clashes on Sunday when football fans marching for a united Ukraine scuffled with pro-Russia supporters. The authorities in Kharkiv said several people were injured.
On Monday morning, gunmen wearing uniforms with no insignias moved into the local administrative building in Kostyantynivka and raised the flag of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Republic”.
They were also reported to be in control of the police station in Kostyantynivka, which is located between the town of Sloviansk and the city of Donetsk, both also controlled by separatists.
US President Barack Obama confirmed the stepping up of sanctions against Russia, which he said was part of a “calibrated effort” to change Moscow’s behaviour in Ukraine, during a visit to the Philippines.
He said the measures were in response to Moscow’s failure to uphold an international accord aimed at peacefully resolving the Ukraine crisis.
Mr Obama said the sanctions – which will be announced in detail later in Washington – would target individuals and companies, as well as some high-tech exports to Russia. But he acknowledged it was uncertain whether they would have any effect.
He said they were not aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin personally.
“The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul,” he said.
Meanwhile, ambassadors from the 28 EU member states are meeting in Brussels to agree new sanctions against Russia.
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Ukraine’s media highlights
“It is time to tear down the masks: this is not separatism, this is terrorism… Our liberal treatment of the militants and the attempt to portray their activities as separatism amount to aiding the biggest evil of the 21st Century.” (Ukrainian news website Obozrevatel)
“The EU’s intentions are serious. The capture of the OSCE mission was a direct insult. Sanctions will hit Russia’s interests. Russian decision-makers will have to think twice if they are denied access to their bank accounts in Europe.” (Popular daily tabloid Segodnya)
“Against the background of the dramatic situation in Sloviansk and other cities… the patriotism of my regional compatriots is not that noticeable. But it is the pro-Ukrainian position of the unarmed majority – despite the weakness or corruption of local security forces – that inspires optimism: we shall overcome!” (Donetsk-based Novosti Donbassa website)
The US and EU already have assets freezes and travel bans in place targeting a number of Russian individuals and firms accused of playing a part in the annexation of Crimea last month.
BBC Europe correspondent Chris Morris says it is expected that the ambassadors will add another 15 people in positions of power to the list of those to whom sanctions apply.
Our correspondent says the White House wants a show of unity from the US and Europe, but there is little consensus within the EU at the moment for implementing broader economic sanctions against Russia.
Eight foreign observers – who were operating under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – were led into Sloviansk town hall by masked gunmen and shown to the media on Sunday.
German monitor Col Axel Schneider, who spoke for the group, stressed they were not Nato officers – contrary to claims made by the separatists – nor armed fighters, but diplomats in uniform.
Later, one of the group – a Swede – was freed for medical reasons.
The fate of five Ukrainian military officers accompanying the mission is unknown.
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