Russian Bolshoi ballet chief says knows in heart who attacked him

Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:01am EST
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By Anastasia Gorelova and Thomas Grove

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director left hospital on Monday saying he knew in his heart who was behind the acid attack that threatens his sight and the reputation of one of the world's great theatres.

Sergei Filin, his face scarred and eyes hidden by dark glasses, hinted last month's attack was linked to his work in the fiercely competitive world of ballet. He said his attacker had looked at him from behind a mask "with fear in his eyes".

"I fell on my face in the snow and began to rub snow in my face and eyes," he said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television before his discharge.

"I was in terrible, unbearable pain."

He said he lay in the empty street in front of his apartment building for 20 minutes after the January 17 attack pressing his face into the snow, until he caught the attention of a security guard who called an ambulance.

Dressed in black, he spoke only briefly to reporters before stepping into an ambulance, his wife Maria clutching his arm. He was due later on Monday to fly to a German clinic, widely reported to be in Aachen.

Filin said the attack was the culmination of weeks of threats and was meant to end his career as one of the more influential artists at the Bolshoi Ballet, an enduring symbol of Russian culture since the era of Catherine the Great.

Filin said his sight, invaluable for the grandiose and carefully scrutinized productions of the Bolshoi Ballet, could be better but that he could still see "fuzzy" objects.   Continued...

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, speaks to journalists as he leaves a hospital in Moscow February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Vselovod Kutznestov