The mayor of Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv, is in hospital surgery after being shot in the back.
“Doctors are fighting to save his life,” the mayor’s spokeswoman is reported to have said.
The news comes as the crisis in Ukraine deepens with residents in the eastern city Slovyansk saying they will rebuff attempts by Kyiv to take back administrative buildings seized by separatist gunmen.
One woman who lives locally said:“we’ll take up arms also, should we need to. If it happens that they start pressuring the locals, then we’ll stand up for ourselves – armed or unarmed. The whole city will stand.”
Another resident, Andrei Kharchenko said he would not be voting in Ukraine’s presidential elections: “I don’t see a leader among the candidates for Ukraine’s presidency at all,” he said. Though he added he would vote in a referendum for his region to become part of Russia.
In another development Russian rebels have freed one of eight European observers detained in Slovyansk, but said they had no plans to release the remaining seven.
Meanwhile the United States and Europe say they are preparing new sanctions to put pressure on Moscow.