Top Bolshoi Dancer Confesses To Acid Attack On Ballet's Director

Bolshoi TheatrePavel Dmitrichenko

Photo: Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre/AFP

The top ballet dancer who recently played “Ivan the Terrible” at the famed Bolshoi Theatre has confessed to masterminding the acid attack on the theatre’s ballet chief, police in Moscow said today.Pavel Dmitrichenko, a soloist with the troupe, was one of the trio arrested over the attack, in which Mr Filin, 42, had a jar of sulphuric acid thrown in his face by a single assailant near his home in Moscow on January 17.

Mr Dmitrichenko, 29, who comes from a ballet family, and two men who police believe to be his accomplices have confessed to masterminding and carrying out the attack, police said in a statement.

Russian television ran police footage showing a bleary-eyed Mr Dmitrichenko saying, “I organised that attack but not to the extent that it occurred.”

The Associated Press said it had not verified if the confession had been made under duress.

Svetlana Kokotova of the Moscow police said that officers believe that Mr Dmitrichenko harbored “personal enmity based on his professional activity.”

The Bolshoi theatre did not return calls and emails seeking comment Wednesday morning.

The other two arrested men were Sergei Zarutsky, a 35-year-old who allegedly carried out the attack, and Andrei Lipatov, the driver who is thought to have delivered him to the scene.

A law enforcement source told the RIA Novosti news agency there was evidence to suggest Mr Dmitrichenko was the “zakazchik” – the word Russians use for the person who orders a contract hit or violent assault.

“At the moment the investigation has evidence that the attack was ordered by Mr Dmitrichenko, the motives are being elaborated,” said the source.

Mr Filin was left with severe chemical burns to his eyes and face after the assault and has undergone several operations. He is currently being treated at a clinic in Germany.

Earlier on Tuesday, police had announced their seizure of Mr Lipatov in Stupinio district south of Moscow. They also confirmed they had searched an apartment belonging to Mr Dmitrichenko’s mother, which is reportedly in the same building where Mr Filin lives on Moscow’s Troitskaya Street.

Towards the evening, events moved rapidly and police said they had also detained Mr Zarutsky and Mr Dmitrichenko.

Mr Dmitrichenko, who joined the Bolshoi in 2002, has danced several major parts in recent years, including Ivan the Terrible in the ballet of the same name and the villain in “Swan Lake.”

Bolshoi theatre spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said on Tuesday management was not aware of a conflict between him and Mr Filin. Channel One state television reported, however, that Mr Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, was known to have been at odds with Mr Filin.

Asked if he knew who carried out the attack, Mr Filin said last month: “My heart knows who did it, and in the depths of my soul I have an answer to that question.” However, he admitted this was only “an idea” and refused to name the person publicly.

The Bolshoi Theatre has been at the heart of cultural life in Russia since the early 19th century, and its known for its passionate behind the scenes conflicts.

Police earlier questioned Mr Filin’s family and members of the ballet troupe. One of those interviewed was Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a principal dancer who had an abrasive relationship with Mr Filin and who criticised the Bolshoi’s management over the recent reconstruction of the theatre’s main building saying it made it look like “a Turkish hotel”.

The general director of the Bolshoi said last month that Mr Tsiskaridze should shoulder some of the blame for what happened to Mr Filin because of the antagonistic atmosphere he had created. The dancer denied any involvement in the attack, which he called a tragedy, and said he was the victim of a campaign to discredit him.

Mr Dmitrichenko had supported Mr Tsiskaridze in some of his criticisms of the theatre’s management. He was due to perform at the theatre in Sleeping Beauty on March 16. He is reportedly married with a daughter.

With agencies

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