Bolshoi ballet director in acid attack, eyesight at risk

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:14pm EST
 
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By Steve Gutterman and Thomas Grove

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A masked attacker threw acid in the face of the artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, endangering his eyesight, in what colleagues said on Friday was the culmination of a two-week campaign of intimidation.

Sergei Filin, a former leading dancer at the Bolshoi who has been in the high-pressure job at the heart of Russian culture for nearly two years, was attacked outside his Moscow apartment building as he returned home on Thursday night.

Such is the prestige of Filin's post in Russian life, and its power inside the theatre, that stunned current and former colleagues suggested the motive could have been envy, rivalry or even competition for roles.

Filin, his face covered in bandages with holes for the mouth and eyes, sounded relieved to have survived the attack.

"I was scared. I thought he was going to shoot me, honestly ... and I turned to run but he chased me down," Filin told Russia's REN TV.

"He turned and his face was completely covered, either a scarf or some bandage like a mask, only eyes (to be seen)."

The theatre's director, Anatoly Iksanov, had no doubt the attack was aimed at sowing discord in an institution that has rarely been at peace in a history stretching back to the era of Catherine the Great.

Filin, 42, had reported having his car tires slashed and his emails hacked in recent weeks, as well as receiving repeated nuisance calls from someone who stayed silent when he answered.   Continued...

 
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by REN TV in a Moscow hospital January 18, 2013. REUTERS/REN TV via Reuters TV