Bolshoi Ballet dancer confesses to acid attack on director

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This picture taken on April 7, 2011 shows artistic director of the Bolshoi theatre Sergei Filini speaking with media at the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow. Filin was hospitalised with severe burns after an assailant threw acid on his face, police said on January 18, 2013.

Credit:

YURI KADOBNOV

One of the Bolshoi Ballet's leading soloists, Pavel Dmitrichenko, has confessed to masterminding an acid attack on the company's artistic director, police in Russia say.

Sergei Filin was left disfigured and partially blinded when a masked assailant threw sulphuric acid in his face outside his Moscow apartment building in January.

Dmitrichenko admits planning the attack, which two accomplices carried out.

Police said the attacker called out Filin's name as he was entering an entry code before throwing the acid from a jar.

All three were arrested yesterday and have since signed written statements of confession, Russia's RIA Novosti reported.

"I masterminded this attack, but not to the extent that it eventually happened," Dmitrichenko was shown telling police in a video broadcast on Russian TV, according to the BBC.

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Filin had earlier said he was certain he was attacked because of a professional grudge. Police said Dmitrichenko's motive was his "hostile personal relationship" with Filin, which they believe was linked to rivalries within the notoriously competitive ballet company. The crime prompted weeks of speculation in Russia.

Dmitrichenko and Filin were said to have clashed over money. Dmitrichenko, a staunch critic of changes to the Bolshoi's classical repertoire, was also apparently aggrieved that his girlfriend, Bolshoi ballerina Anzhelina Vorontsova, wasn't getting leading roles, according to one Russian newspaper report.

Dmitrichenko is not a top "premier" dancer, but a leading soloist, the second-highest rank in the company. He made his name playing some of ballet's biggest villains, including Ivan the Terrible and Von Rothbart in Swan Lake.

Filin was one of the Bolshoi's star dancers before winning the top job in 2011. He is currently receiving treatment in Germany, where doctors say they are hopeful he can recover some of his sight.

The company’s spokeswoman, Katerina Novikova, told The New York Times she hoped the arrest will enable the theater to move past the attack.

“It’s important for the future, so that nobody acts like this, because they will know that they’re going to be punished," she said. "It’s important for the theater, and it’s important for the whole country."