Dancer says did not want acid used in Bolshoi attack

Fri Mar 8, 2013 6:23am EST
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By Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A dancer accused of organizing an attack that nearly blinded the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director admitted on Thursday he had wanted him beaten up, but said he was shocked when he heard that his face had been splashed with acid.

Police formally charged Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two suspected accomplices in the January 17 attack, which stunned Russia, revealed discord in the theatre and left Sergei Filin with severe facial burns.

The charges of causing grievous bodily harm were announced after a Moscow court ordered the men held in custody for six weeks while authorities continue to investigate. All three could face prison terms of up to 12 years if convicted, police said.

Brought to a drab court in handcuffs, the slight, disheveled Dmitrichenko told the judge he had agreed when the man accused of carrying out the attack suggested roughing Filin up, but did not tell him to throw acid in Filin's face.

"When I heard what happened to Sergei, I was just in shock. I could not believe that the man who proposed beating him up went ahead and did this thing with acid," said Dmitrichenko, 29, dressed in a black hooded winter coat and a striped sweater and speaking from behind the bars of a courtroom cage.

Dmitrichenko, who made a career playing villains such as the murderous medieval Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible, said that when the assailant had proposed that he "hit him (Filin) in the head, beat him, I agreed to this suggestion." He also said he told the attacker when Filin left the Bolshoi late on Jan 17.

A masked assailant called Filin's name as he returned home that night and threw acid in his face from a glass jar, leaving him writhing in pain in the snow. Filin, 42, is being treated in Germany after several operations in Russia to save his eyesight and is expected to return to work later this year.

The attack exposed bitter infighting at the Bolshoi and compromised the reputation of the colonnaded theatre near the Kremlin in central Moscow, an enduring symbol of Russian culture that was founded in 1776.   Continued...

Yury Zarutsky sits in the defendant's holding cell during a court hearing in Moscow March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov