Brooklyn Man Indicted For Anti-Russian Hate Crime, Attempted Murder

By Matis Glenn

Brooklyn Supreme Court building

BROOKLYN – The suspect in a brutal attack on a Ukrainian immigrant thought to be Russian was arraigned on charges of attempted murder as a hate crime among other accusations on June 1, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

 Oleg Sulyma, 31, of the Gravesend area of Brooklyn, is accused of targeting Andrii Meleshkov in a drunken rage, telling him “You look Russian” while Meleshkov was sitting with two friends in a Sheepshead Bay lounge. Surprised, Meleshkov responded that he was in fact Ukrainian, to which a drunken Sulyma responded with a ”test” to prove that he was from Ukraine, reports the New York Post. He asked Meleshkov and his friends to say the word “Palianytsia”, which is a type of bread eaten in Ukraine. Russians are thought to have a difficult time saying this word, as it contains combinations of sounds not common in the Russian language.  Unsatisfied, Sulyma lunged at Meleshkov after breaking a beer bottle and assaulted him. Meleshkov required 17 stiches in his face and neck.

 “I got lucky,” Meleshkov told the Post. “The paramedics told me it’s my second birthday because the wound that was on the left side on the neck, it came really close to the carotid artery,” he said. A waitress in the lounge called 911, and Meleshkov was taken to Lutheran Hospital.

Sulyma was hospitalized as well, with a collapsed lung and other injuries sustained when Meleshkov’s friends fought back against the assailant.

Sulyma’s attorney deny the accusations, and claim that he himself was a victim.  “The simple fact of the matter is, this is a disputed argument between people and my client bore the brunt of it,” his defense said according to court records. “He was the one who was pummeled, he was the one that was beaten up by three people and he was the one who sustained a collapsed lung, multiple stitches to his lip, multiple stitches to his eye, bruising all over his body,” the transcription read.

There have been a number of anti-Russian hate crimes in recent weeks, in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine, including an incident where a Brooklyn man who unknowingly displayed a pro-Russian Donetsk flag and was physically assaulted.

“This defendant allegedly attempted to murder an innocent Ukrainian man who he believed to be Russian in a hateful and violent rage,” Gonzalez said. “Prosecutors in our Hate Crimes Bureau will vigorously seek accountability in this case, and we will continue to work with our community and law enforcement partners to end the troubling uptick in bias-related incidents in our neighborhoods,” he continued.

Sulyma was arraigned June 1st  before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 24-count indictment, in which he is charged with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, first-degree assault as a hate crime, first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, second-degree assault as a hate crime, second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, and other related charges. The defendant is on supervised release and was ordered to return to court on August 8, 2022. 

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