Defendant in Bolshoi theatre attack says acid use his own idea

Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:12pm EST
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By Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A man charged with throwing acid in the face of the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director said the dancer accused of ordering the attack had only asked him to hit the victim and the use of acid was his own idea, a Russian court heard on Wednesday.

Testimony in the trial of three men charged in the attack on Sergei Filin also focused on the size and skills of defendant Pavel Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, a dancer who a previous witness said had been passed over for roles by Filin.

Dmitrichenko, 29, and the other defendants face up to 12 years in prison if convicted for the attack last January that nearly blinded Filin and laid bare bitter rivalries behind the scenes at one of Russia's leading cultural institutions.

Dmitrichenko, who denies guilt, has said previously that he gave co-defendant Yuri Zarutsky the green light to hit Filin and phoned Zarutsky on he night of the attack to tell him Filin was heading home, but had not meant for acid to be used.

That contention was supported by excerpts from a transcript of investigators' questioning of Zarutsky which were read out by the judge on Wednesday in the Moscow courtroom where the defendants were confined to a cage.

"Dmitrichenko thought that I would beat Filin, but I decided to douse him with acid," the judge quoted Zarutsky, a neighbour of Dmitrichenko, as saying. "I told nobody about this, not even Dmitrichenko."

Filin's eyesight remains impaired despite more than 20 operations, mostly in Germany where he spent months in hospital.

Asked in court on Wednesday whether Dmitrichenko had asked him to beat up or hit Filin, Zarutsky said: "Hit him - yes."   Continued...

Sergei Filin, the artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet, addresses the court in Moscow, November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin