Bolshoi Theater Crew Support Suspect in Acid Attack

MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) – Over 300 cast and crew members of the Bolshoi Theater signed a letter in support of their colleague, charged with masterminding an acid attack on the theater’s artistic director.

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 currently undergoing treatment in Germany. Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, confessed last week to organizing the attack, but later changed his statement.

In a letter addressed to the Russian president, government, media and theatrical society, Bolshoi cast and crew members said Dmitrichenko could not have been the mastermind of this crime and called on the media to stop labeling him a “criminal” before a court issues an official conviction. 

“Having known Pavel personally for many years, we are convinced that despite his notorious temper, his hot-headedness and his straightforwardness, he is a very decent and sympathetic person who is always ready to extend a helping hand,” the staff said in the letter.

“The investigation’s findings seem too rushed, the evidence seems unconvincing and we view Pavel’s testimony, which was later changed, as given under pressure,” the letter said.

Last Thursday, police said Dmitrichenko paid the alleged attacker, 35-year-old Yury Zarutsky, 50,000 rubles ($1,600) to carry out the attack.

In an interview with Rossiya-24 television on Tuesday, the Bolshoi’s General Director Anatoly Iksanov said in his opinion, it was important to determine whether Dmitrichenko only ordered a beating, while it was the perpetrator’s idea to use sulfuric acid in the attack.

Dmitrichenko’s lawyer Alexander Barkhanov said last week that his client, who was involved in some kind of a confrontation with Filin, admitted his guilt, but said he never ordered the use of acid in the attack.

In their collective letter on Tuesday, Bolshoi staff members asked for a new thorough and unbiased investigation into the crime. The results of the investigation, they said, would impact not only the theater, but also the entire country as a whole.

“This is not just a matter of fate for famous actors, but a matter of reputation for one of the best theaters in the world and for the Russian culture as a whole. Any verdict in this case will be crucial for the country,” the letter said.


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