Russia fires Bolshoi Theatre boss after acid attack
By Timothy Heritage and Maria Tsvetkova
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian government dismissed the head of the revered but scandal-plagued Bolshoi Theatre on Tuesday, six months after a hit man hired by one of its dancers threw acid in the face of its ballet director.
Anatoly Iksanov was replaced by Vladimir Urin, an experienced theatre boss whose task is to rebuild the reputation of one of the world's great cultural institutions after a behind-the-scenes drama with more twists than an on-stage plot.
Iksanov's departure as general manager had been all but inevitable since a masked man with a jar of sulphuric acid almost blinded ballet maestro Sergei Filin and exposed bitter infighting and rivalries at the Bolshoi.
Theatre insiders said his removal may have been hastened by a new spat over the decision not to give a lead role in a new production to a prima ballerina admired by President Vladimir Putin.
"A difficult situation had developed at the theatre and in the troupe, and everything pointed to the need for renewal at the theatre," Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky told a news conference at the Bolshoi, whose cream-colored, eight-columned facade is close to Moscow's Red Square and the Kremlin.
Announcing Urin's appointment, he said: "He will be able to unite the troupe and continue the development of the best theatre in the country and one of the best in the world."
Iksanov, 61, sat beside the minister in an intended show of unity, but looked solemn and said little beyond thanking the company for his 13-year tenure. Although Medinsky and others showered him with praise, there was no doubt he had been forced out, with more than a year of his contract left to run. Continued...