Bolshoi Attack Mastermind Denies Ordering Acid Assault

MOSCOW, March 7 (RIA Novosti) – A lawyer for the star Russian ballet dancer who admitted this week to having masterminded an attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater said in court on Thursday that his client had not ordered acid to be used in the assault.

A masked assailant threw concentrated acid into the face of Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi’s artistic director, on January 17 in Moscow and fled the scene. Filin, 42, suffered third-degree burns to his face and eyes. The former dancer is undergoing treatment in Germany.

Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, confessed to police earlier this week that he had organized the attack. Two other men also admitted to involvement. But Dmitrichenko’s lawyer told a packed Moscow courtroom on Thursday his client had not ordered the alleged attacker, 35-year-old Yury Zarutsky, to use sulfuric acid in the assault.

Police said on Thursday Dmitrichenko paid Zarutsky 50,000 roubles ($1,600) to carry out the attack.

“Dmitrichenko admits his guilt,” said lawyer Alexander Barkhanov. “[But] my client did not intend to cause severe injuries to Filin, and especially not in this abominable way.”

He did not deny that Dmitrichenko and Filin had been involved in a confrontation, but said it was not “to the extent that someone would get splashed with acid.”

State television has suggested the dancer was angered by Filin’s refusal to hand his young girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, a starring role.

But Filin’s lawyer has refused to be drawn.

“We believe that investigators still have a lot of work to do to establish all of the facts,” Filin’s lawyer Tatyana Stukalova told the Rossiya state television channel.

The Bolshoi’s general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has alleged that the theater’s veteran principal dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, was behind the attack. Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, is coached by Tsiskaridze.

Tsiskaridze, who has frequently criticized the Bolshoi’s management, has rubbished the allegation.


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