Bolshoi ballerina afraid to return to Russia: Newspaper

Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:41pm EST
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By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A scandal involving allegations of blackmail and threats against a top ballerina at the Bolshoi is unfolding just days after the artistic director of ballet at Russia's most prestigious theatre was attacked, a Russian newspaper reported this week.

Dancer Svetlana Lunkina has extended a leave of absence because she is afraid to return home from Canada as a result of threats targeting her and her film producer husband, Russian daily Izvestia reported in stories it ran on Monday and Tuesday.

The alleged threats stem not from Lunkina's career at the Bolshoi, now on hold for several months at least, but from a dispute between her husband and his former partner in a project for a film about late Russian ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya'.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with me, but they sent letters disparaging me ... to all the theatres," Izvestia quoted Lunkina as saying in an interview. She said her Facebook page was hacked into as part of a campaign of "provocations".

The reports come after an unknown assailant splashed acid in the face of Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin on January 17 - an attack he has said followed repeated threats and may have been motivated by rivalry or resentment.

Lunkina's husband, Vladislav Moskalyov, was sued for $3.7 million by a foundation linked to his former partner in the film, prominent Russian comic Vladimir Vinokur, shortly after Moskalyov left the film project, Izvestia reported.

It said letters had been sent to theatres alleging Moskalyov had laundered some of the money with help from Lunkina.

Russian police have opened an investigation based on allegations of theft from Vinokur's foundation, but have not named any suspects, Izvestia reported.   Continued...