KEY POINTS

  • Oleg Sulyma was arrested for stabbing Andrii Meleshkov at a Brooklyn bar
  • Sulyma is currently facing multiple charges
  • The case is being investigated as a hate crime

A Ukrainian man allegedly stabbed a fellow countryman for speaking Russian during an alcohol-fueled spat at a New York City bar, according to an exclusive report by the New York Post. Authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Oleg Sulyma, a 31-year-old Ukraine citizen who is settled in Brooklyn for the past 12 years, is accused of stabbing 36-year-old Andrii Meleshkov at a Signature karaoke bar in Sheepshead Bay while the latter was celebrating a friend's birthday last week.

Sulyma was arrested on multiple charges, including felony hate crime, menacing, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon, the outlet reported.

Meleshkov, a truck driver in New York City, was born and raised in Eastern Ukraine and has a Russian mother. He came to Brooklyn in 2015.

During the incident, Sulyma allegedly moved to Meleshkov's table and began hurling "profanities" at him and his friends. "You look Russian," Sulyma allegedly told the victim while challenging him to translate words from Ukrainian to prove that he's from Ukraine.

"We switched to Ukrainian in order to calm him down but it was getting him more and more agitated," Meleshkov told the New York Post.

Sulyma then asked Meleshkov to say the Ukrainian word "palianytsia" (a type of Ukrainian bread), which many native Russian speakers have difficulty pronouncing, prosecutors said.

"If you get it wrong, I'll have my way with you," Sulyma allegedly warned Meleshkov. 

The victim said he pronounced the word several times as he tried to pay the bill and move out of the scene, but this only made Sulyma "angrier and angrier." The latter then smashed two beer bottles and turned toward Meleshkov, threatening him.

"He grabbed sharp shards of glass from the broken bottles and he started advancing towards us and we realized that he was serious and he's going to start to slash us," Meleshkov recalled, as per the outlet.

Before Meleshkov could leave, Sulyma allegedly struck him multiple times, causing slash wounds to his cheeks, ears, temple and neck. He was then rushed to a hospital where he received 17 stitches.

"I got lucky … the paramedics told me it's my second birthday because the wound that was on the left side of the neck, came really close to the carotid artery," Meleshkov said.

Meanwhile, Sulyma's lawyer argued in court that his client was also a victim and was attacked by Meleshkov and his friends. Sulyma suffered injuries in the attack, including a collapsed lung and bruising all over his body, the lawyer claimed.

According to reports, there has been an increase in the number of hate crimes committed against Russians and other nationalists who support Russia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

police-car-gd95845a55_1280 Representative image Photo: Credit: Pixabay / tevenet