Sergei Filin, the artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet and a former principal dancer, is fighting for his eyesight after a masked attacker threw acid in his face.
The assailant struck around midnight on Thursday as Filin, 42, was approaching his apartment building in central Moscow.
Doctors say he has third-degree burns to his face and eyes and will require at least six months to heal, according to a Bolshoi spokeswoman.
It's not yet clear whether the damage to his vision is permanent. Assistant Dilyara Timergazina told the New York Times that Filin was able to see from one eye but not the other following the attack.
President Dmitri Medvedev called the attack an "incomprehensibe tragedy."
"I'm certain that whoever carried this out will receive the most serious punishment," he said.
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Police believe Filin was targeted because of internal politics at the world-famous ballet company he leads.
"This is indisputably tied to his work," the Bolshoi's general director Anatoly Iksanov told reporters. "Someone is trying to cause splits and disagreements among the theater's management."
Filin was subjected to months of threats and intimidation prior to this attack, his associates have said. His car was scratched, its tires slashed, and his personal email account has been hacked.
Tensions over the Bolshoi's artistic program were long-running and well-known, according to the BBC. Iksanov characterized Filin's management style as "uncompromising."
An attack of such nature is unprecedented, however, even among the Bolshoi's long history of power struggles.
"The cruelty of the ballet world has become surprisingly pathological," the Times quoted former Bolshoi ballerina Anastasia Volochkova as saying.
After doctors finish operating on him on Friday, Filin is expected to be sent to a burn center in Belgium for treatment, Gazeta.ru reported.