Hennadiy Kernes

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Hennadiy Adolfovych Kernes
Кернес Геннадий.jpg
Mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine
Personal details
Born Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
27 June 1959
Occupation Legislator
Religion Judaism
Website Official mayoral website

Hennadiy Adolfovych Kernes (Ukrainian: Геннадій Адольфович Кернес, Russian: Генна́дий Адо́льфович Ке́рнес, Yiddish: געננאַדיי אַדאָלפאָוויטש קערנעס‎; born 27 June 1959, Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, USSR[1]) is the mayor of Kharkiv.

Early life

Kernes was born into a Jewish family, to Adolf Lazarevych Kernes and Anna Abramovna in Kharkiv. He graduated from the National University "Yaroslav the Wise Law Academy of Ukraine" with a degree in jurisprudence and from Kharkiv National University of Economics with a degree in state management.[2] Between 1977 and 1979 Kernes studied in CTC-14 in Kharkiv and specialised in draftsman-designer on mechanics.[2]

Business career

From 1979–90, Kernes worked for a number of enterprises.[2] According to his official biography his career began in 1977.[1] Kernes managed the production and trading company Acceptor from 1992 to 1994.[2] He then became the chairman at CJSC NPK-Holding until 1999. Kernes was then first deputy director of the Kharkiv branch of the Trading House Gas of Ukraine till 2001.[2] He then became CEO at NPK-Holding till 2006.[2]

Prior to his career in politics, Kernes allegedly acted as an organized crime boss in the Kharkiv region,[3][4] a claim he has denied.[5]

Kernes has a criminal record for theft and fraud; according to him the accusations were "partly fabricated" by "his enemies".[6][7][8]

In 1986 he was charged but not prosecuted. In August 1992 Kernes was sentenced by the Kharkiv Regional Court to three years in a penal colony; but the court released him from custody, taking into account that Kernes was held in jail during the criminal investigation that had lasted more than two years.[9] He has been described as a "mini-oligarch", having acquired enough wealth in his business career to launch a career in politics.[6]

Political career

In 1998 Kernes was first elected into the Kharkiv city council and has served three terms there.[1][2] Between April and May 2002 Kernes was the secretary of Kharkiv City Council.[2]

In November 2004 he supported the Orange Revolution.[10] He came out to condemn the actions taken by the regional governor Yevhen Kushnaryov. In 2006 he was elected to the Kharkiv City Council on the list of the Party of Regions, as member of the party.[1] In April 2006 Kernes became the secretary of Kharkiv City Council.[2]

Since 2010 after Mikhail Dobkin had been appointed to the post of the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, Kernes had been the secretary of city council, the acting mayor of Kharkiv (March 2010 – 24 November 2010). In 2010 had his candidacy nominated for the Party of Regions in the elections to local authorities. In November Kernes was elected as the mayor of Kharkiv with a small, controversial margin.[11][12] On 24 November 2010 he took the oath and entered the post in early December 2010.[2]

In January 2014, Kernes controversially awarded himself with a 25% pay raise.[13]

Kernes was noted for holding a strongly 'pro-Russian' stance and for being a supporter of the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.[14] During the anti-Yanukovych Euromaidan protests in late 2013 and early 2014, he was accused of organizing Antimaidan demonstrations, as well as hiring titushky (thugs that allegedly provocated and attacked Euromaidan supporters).[15][16]

Following the ousting of Yanukovych in February 2014, and after he and the governor of Kharkiv Oblast, Mykhailo Dobkin, had briefly found refuge in Russia,[17] Kernes was accused of alleged connections to death threats, kidnapping and torturing of participants of Euromaidan in Kharkiv and was subsequently placed under night-time house arrest.[12][18][19] This criminal case against him was dropped on 30 July 2014 "due to the serious illness of the suspect".[20] He was accused, in February 2014, by the then (more pro-Western) new Ukrainian leadership of promoting separatism.[14] However, since then he is believed to have softened this position.[14] In March 2014 he stated that he had been a "prisoner of Yanukovych's system" and that he expected "good things to come" from the new Yatsenyuk Government.[16]

Attempted assassination and re-election

On Monday 28 April 2014, Kernes was shot once in the back while biking, by an unknown assailant using a sniper rifle.[21]

Although the wound was life-threatening, doctors performed emergency surgery and were able to stabilize him. The following day Kernes was flown to Israel for further treatment.[22] According to a report by Televiziyna Sluzhba Novyn on 10 May 2014, he was "making a quick recovery"; in the accompanying interview he stated "I'm in favor of Kharkiv remaining part of Ukraine and therefore in favor of seeing her flourish".[23] (While recovering in Israel) Kernes stated on 11 June 2014 that his willingness to cooperate with the (then just inaugurated[24]) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.[25] On 12 August 2014 he stated "Please remember these people—Kharkiv was, is and will be part of a single and indivisible Ukraine".[26] Kernes commented on the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea on 23 August 2014 saying "Crimea will return to Ukraine, I believe in it".[27] Kernes returned to Kharkiv on 17 June 2014.[28] Since then he is using a wheelchair.[29][30]

In the October 2015 Kharkiv mayoral election Kernes was re-elected as a candidate of Revival in the first round of the election with 65.8% of the votes; with a voter turnout of 44.4%.[31][32][33]

Personal life

Kernes is married to his second wife, Oksana (née Haysinskaya).[34] Kernes' first wife was Oksana Vasilenko; the couple divorced in 1985.[9] Kernes is a father of three children,[1][10] including his stepson, Haysinskaya's son from her previous marriage.[9] Kernes' first son was born in his marriage to Vasilenko, and his second son was from Halina Privalov, with whom he had an affair between his first and second marriage. In January 2003 Haysinskaya appealed to the police department that Kernes had caused her injuries. After that, Kharkiv billboards appeared with the message "Oksana, I'm sorry!".[9]

Kernes owns 27 dogs, assorted birds, and other animals and since 2007 has lived in a Kharkiv hotel.[35] His Instagram account has been described by The New York Times as "eccentric"; Kernes has claimed "Of all the mayors, my Instagram account is the best".[35] He is known for actively promoting healthier living.[10]

Since they met in 1998, Kernes has been a close friend of Mykhailo Dobkin – governor of Kharkiv Oblast from 2010 till 2014, mayor of Kharkiv from 2006 till 2010, past and current member (currently for Opposition Bloc) of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) and the Party of Regions candidate in the 2014 Ukrainian presidential election.[35][36]

Kernes is widely known as "Gepa".[17][37]


  • The Order of Merit third class (5 July 2012) – For the significant personal contribution to the preparation and conduct of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship final in Ukraine, successful implementation of infrastructural projects, law and order and public safety guarantee during the tournament, improvement of international Ukraine authority, high professionalism.[38]
  • The Kharkiv regional state administration certificate.
  • The Badge of Honor 'Slobozhyanskaya Slava', "For diligence to 350 years of Kharkiv foundation"
  • The Kharkiv City Council Executive Committee certificate.
  • Kharkiv and Bohodukhov Metropolitan Nicodemus certificate.
  • The Order of Glory to the Loyalty to the Fatherland, III class.
  • The Medal '60th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk'.
  • The Medal 'For active participation in the veteran's movement'.
  • The Order of Glory to the Loyalty to the Fatherland.
  • The XVII annual award 'Person of the Year 2012' in the category of 'City Head of the Year'.[39]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 (Russian) Short bio of Hennadiy Kernes, LIGA
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 "Kernes Hennadiy Adolfovych, Personal file". slovoidilo.ua. Retrieved 28 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dr. Taras Kuzio, "Regions prove they cannot change", Kyiv Post, 19 September 2007; retrieved 28 April 2014.
  4. Luke Harding, "Ukraine mayor Gennady Kernes fighting for life after being shot", The Guardian, 28 April 2014; accessed 28 August 2014.
  5. "Ukraine crisis: Kharkiv mayor Hennadiy Kernes shot", BBC News; accessed 28 August 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Ukraine crisis: Key players in eastern unrest", BBC News (29 April 2014)
  7. "Pro-Russian mayor of Ukrainian town wounded by gunfire". AFP. 28 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "In Ukraine's second city, protesters at risk", dawn.com; retrieved 28 April 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 (Russian) Oksana Haysinskaya and Hennadiy Kernes, Комментарии:, 2 March 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Profile, rt.com; accessed 28 August 2014.
  11. "Batkivschyna files over 2,000 suits against local elections results," Kyiv Post, 4 November 2010; accessed 28 August 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Mayor of major eastern Ukraine city shot and critically wounded", Haaretz, 28 April 2014.
  13. (Ukrainian) "Кернес вирішив, що в січні непогано попрацював, і виписав собі премію", Ukrayinska Pravda, 13 February 2014; retrieved 28 April 2014.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Mayor of Ukraine's Second-largest City Shot VOA News, 28 April 2014.
  15. "Mayor of Ukraine's 2nd-biggest city shot in the back", New York Post, 28 April 2014; accessed 28 August 2014.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Kharkiv's Kernes justifies his 180-degree political turn by saying he was 'prisoner' of Yanukovych system", MY-MEDIA, 6 March 2014; accessed 28 August 2014.
  17. 17.0 17.1 (Ukrainian) "Dopa and Gepa fled to Russia", Ukrayinska Pravda, 22 February 2014.
  18. Court places Kernes under night-time house arrest, Interfax-Ukraine, 14 March 2014.
  19. "The interrogation of Kernes will be held in the Prosecutor General’s Office", Харьков Новостное Агентство, 19 March 2014.
  20. (Ukrainian) Cases against Kernes stopped, Ukrayinska Pravda (30 July 2014)
    The State Office of Public Prosecutor stopped a legal investigation against Kernes from - for diseases, Преступности.НЕТ (30 July 2014)
  21. "Ukraine crisis: US and EU to intensify Russia sanctions". BBC. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Ukraine mayor in critical condition after he was shot in the back, Los Angeles Times (28 April 2014)
    "Mayor of Kharkov, Ukraine shot in back, hospitalized - press service", RT.com; accessed 28 April 2014.
  22. Report on assassination attempt, New York Times, 30 April 2014.
  23. Wounded Jewish Ukraine mayor: 'I will return to Kharkiv', Ynetnews, 10 May 2014.
  24. Lukas Alpert (29 May 2014). "Petro Poroshenko to Be Inaugurated as Ukraine President June 7". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Rada decides to hold inauguration of Poroshenko on 7 June @ 10:00, Interfax-Ukraine, 3 June 2014.
    Poroshenko sworn in as Ukrainian president, Interfax-Ukraine, 7 June 2014.
  25. (Ukrainian) "Kernes is ready to assist the new government", Ukrayinska Pravda, 11 June 2014.
  26. (Ukrainian) "Kernes warned: There are no referendums and tumors in Kharkiv", Ukrayinska Pravda, 3 August 2014.
  27. (Russian) "A monument to Sahaidachny in Kharkov", sq.com.ua, 23 August 2014.
  28. "Kernes returns to Kharkiv", Interfax-Ukraine, 17 June 2014.
  29. http://news.yahoo.com/photos/kharkivs-current-mayor-gennadiy-kernes-center-sitting-wheelchair-photo-144837527.html
  30. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/502094.html
  31. (Ukrainian) "Revival" will send the mayor of Kharkiv Kernes, and the seat of mayor of Odessa will fight Fabricant, UNIAN (23 September 2015)
  32. Kernes wins elections for Kharkiv mayor with over 65% of vote, Interfax-Ukraine (31 October 2015)
  33. http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_five_lessons_from_the_local_elections_in_ukraine4087
  34. (Ukrainian) "Wife and son Kernes happy holiday in the Maldives", Tablo ID, 30 January 2014.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 "Wounded Mayor Is Both Colorful and Powerful, Loved and Loathed", The New York Times, 28 April 2014.
  36. (Russian) Mykhailo Dobkin profile, LIGA.net; accessed 28 August 2014.
    "Ukraine: Party of Regions nominates Mykhailo Dobkin as presidential candidate, Euronews, 29 March 2014.
    Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament, Ukrinform (8 November 2014)
    People's Front 0.33% ahead of Poroshenko Bloc with all ballots counted in Ukraine elections - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    Poroshenko Bloc to get 132 seats in parliament - CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    (Ukrainian) Full electoral list of Opposition Bloc, Ukrayinska Pravda (19 September 2014)
  37. (Ukrainian) "Dobkin and Kernes significant move on the other wheels", Tablo ID (22 September 2011)
  38. Decree of the President of Ukraine № 435/2012, president.gov.ua; accessed 28 August 2014.
  39. Kernes won XVII annual award 'Person of the Year 2012' in the category of 'City Head of the Year'

External links