Surgery scheduled to restore Bolshoi ballet director's eyesight

Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:14pm EST
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By Thomas Grove

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet will undergo surgery next week to try to save his eyesight after an attacker threw acid in his face, the theatre's chief said on Saturday.

Sergei Filin, 42, spoke to investigators in a Moscow hospital, Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov said, adding that they also questioned his colleagues, who said the attack was likely triggered by envy, rivalry or competition for roles in Russia's most prestigious theatre.

"Investigators are questioning those who worked in the theatre, artists," said Iksanov on the snowy grounds outside the hospital, where Filin was receiving visitors.

A masked assailant threw acid in Filin's face late on Thursday night outside his house as he returned home from the theatre. Colleagues said Filin believes the attacker had been following him and called him by name before striking.

An icon of Russian culture, the Bolshoi Theatre is a magnet for tourists and has seen power struggles among dancers and directors throughout more than 200 years of history.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of those conflicts, whether driven by egos or artistic conviction, have been played out in public.

Iksanov said he and Filin discussed the theatre's future during his absence and that a temporary replacement had been chosen.

"It was Sergei's choice," he told Russia 24 television, without naming the candidate.   Continued...

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by REN TV in a Moscow hospital January 18, 2013. REUTERS/REN TV via Reuters TV