Bloomberg News

Bolshoi Star Dancer Confesses to Acid Attack on Director

March 06, 2013

Bolshoi ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed to organizing the acid attack that damaged the face and eyes of the Russian theater’s artistic director, Sergei Filin.

Dmitrichenko admitted to masterminding the assault outside the director’s apartment building on Jan. 17, Moscow police said on their website today, adding in a separate statement that he was motivated by “personal animosity.” Two other men confessed to being the driver and the assailant and all three remain in custody after being detained yesterday.

“I organized this attack, but not in the way it was carried out,” Dmitrichenko said in a short video recording aired on state television channel Rossiya 24.

Dmitrichenko, 29, has been with the theater founded in 1776 by Catherine the Great since 2002 and last starred as Ivan the Terrible in Sergei Prokofiev’s work of the same name. Investigators last month cited rivalries at the Bolshoi as probable motives for the crime, particularly between supporters of Filin, 42, and of Nikolai Tsiskaridze, the principal dancer.

The dancer and his accomplices should face as much as 12 years in prison for inflicting severe bodily harm, Filin’s lawyer, Tatyana Stukalova, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news service.

Rossiya 24 television cited unidentified Bolshoi performers as saying that Dmitrichenko and Filin had argued over Anzhelina Vorontsova, a 21-year-old soloist and student of Tsiskaridze. Dmitrichenko was “romantically linked” to Vorontsova and was angry that Filin denied her the lead of “Swan Lake,” the state-run channel said today.

Car Shop

Dmitrichenko and his accomplices bought the acid in an auto-body shop near Moscow, managed to learn Filin’s exact schedule and used mobile-phone numbers registered to other people to plot the crime, according to police.

In the weeks after the assault, Tsiskaridze, 39, accused management of waging a Stalin-era witch hunt against him, while repeatedly denying involvement in the attack.

“They are organizing meetings against me and forcing people to sign letters against me,” Tsiskaridze told the British Broadcasting Corp. in an interview posted on the BBC’s website Feb. 8.

Days earlier, Bolshoi General Director Anatoly Iksanov told billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Snob magazine that he believed Tsiskaridze was behind the Internet release of gay pornographic photos that led to the resignation of Filin’s predecessor, Gennady Yanin, in 2011. Iksanov, 61, blamed the Georgian-born dancer for fostering animosity within the theater by openly seeking Filin’s job, though he didn’t accuse Tsiskaridze of ordering the attack.

Hacked Phones

Tsiskaridze, in turn, accused Filin of seeking to turn Vorontsova against him by offering her a part in “Swan Lake” if she stopped taking lessons from him.

Filin has said his mobile phones were tampered with and his e-mail and Facebook Inc. accounts hacked in the days before a masked assailant threw acid at his face as he arrived home.

Filin is still being treated in Germany and plans to return to work in the next few months, Katerina Novikova, a spokeswoman for the Bolshoi Theater, said on Rossiya 24 yesterday.

Moscow’s Tagansky district court will hold a hearing in the case tomorrow to determine whether to keep the suspects in custody or grant them bail, Ksenia Lyapina, a court spokeswoman, said by phone.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net; Jason Corcoran in Moscow at jcorcoran13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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