Russia's Bolshoi artists ask Putin for new attack investigation

Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:40am EDT
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By Thomas Grove and Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Artists at Russia's Bolshoi ballet asked Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to order a new inquiry into the acid attack on the troupe's artistic director, fearing the dancer arrested for the assault was only a pawn in the case.

Three hundred performers said in a letter to Putin they believed Bolshoi star Pavel Dmitrichenko had only confessed to plotting the January 17 attack that almost blinded Sergei Filin because of police pressure.

The Moscow police declined to comment, but the letter suggested there could be many more twists in a case that has shocked Russia and shone a spotlight on bitter rivalries at one of its most respected institutions.

The Bolshoi's management and Filin himself have suggested Dmitrichenko acted on someone else's orders to organize the attack, in which a masked assailant flung a jar of acid in the director's face outside his Moscow apartment.

"The conclusions of the investigation appear to us hasty and the proof unconvincing, and the confessions of Pavel himself a result of harsh pressure he was put under," said the letter addressed to Putin and others in the government and theatre.

"We are asking for an honest and unbiased investigation into the tragedy that happened to Sergei Filin," it added, requesting the creation of a commission to look into the crime.

Dmitrichenko, 29, who played the murderous Russian monarch Ivan the Terrible and the villain in Swan Lake, appeared in footage shown on state television last week looking haggard and tired as he confessed to organizing the incident.

He has defended himself by saying he had not wanted acid used. His lawyer was quoted by the Rapsi legal news agency on Tuesday as saying that he was ready to agree to a plea bargain but would not accept full responsibility for the crime.   Continued...

People walk past the main entrance to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin