A man is facing serious prison time after stabbing a fellow Ukrainian under the false belief the victim was actually Russian, the Brooklyn District Attorney announced on Wednesday.
According to investigators, 31-year-old Oleg Sulyma, a Ukrainian immigrant living in Gravesend, attacked the 36-year-old victim after yelling “you look Russian” at around 3:45 a.m. inside a lounge near Emmons Avenue and E. 21st Street.
The victim insisted that they were Ukrainian, but Sulyma didn’t believe them, saying “I will show you what a real Ukrainian is.”
The suspect then proceeded to smash two beer bottles against a table, and stab the victim in his neck and face after yelling “I’m going to cut you,” the DA’s office said.
The incident comes as war continues to rage in Eastern Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, which has resulted in over 4,000 deaths thus far, according to the United Nations.
Southern Brooklyn, where the incident occurred, is home to thousands of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants, which has made the area a hot-bed for increased tensions as a result of the war.
As a result of Sulyma’s motives in the heinous crime, prosecutors have charged him with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime and 32 other charges.
“This defendant allegedly attempted to murder an innocent Ukrainian man who he believed to be Russian in a hateful and violent rage. Brooklyn’s diversity makes our borough so vibrant, and hate-motivated violence will never be tolerated here,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Prosecutors in our Hate Crimes Bureau will vigorously seek accountability in this case”
The defendant was indicted by a grand jury, and arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on Wednesday. He was freed on “supervised release” and will next appear in court in August.