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High profile crime at Moscow’s Bolshoi still in headlines

March 07, 2013, 15:59 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

Shakespearean passions raging in Russia over the attack against the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, Sergei Filin, who had his face disfigured and eyesight damaged with sulfuric acid, thrown at him on January 17, continue to be fuelled with ever more details. The tragedy has not only exposed the real state of affairs at Russia’s main theater (which is far from ideal), but also confirmed that even behind the wildest and weirdest things people may dare do one usually finds very simple motives as old as the world itself.

On January 17 the chief choreographer of the Bolshoi ballet suffered a surprise attack – a man approached him on the street and splashed acid in his face. Filin suffered facial and eye burns and was taken to a Moscow hospital to have undergone three surgeries. Then he took a course of treatment in Germany, where he is still now.

The crime was solved within record-tight deadlines. On Tuesday three likely accomplices were arrested, including suspected attacker Yuri Zarutsky, and driver Andrei Lipatov. The investigators believe that Bolshoi ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko is the man who ordered and paid for the attack.

All have already confessed.

Ten years ago Dmitrichenko joined the Bolshoi, where he has been engaged in character roles, for instance, the Evil Genius in Swan Lake. Last year he was appointed to dance the title role in Ivan the Terrible - as some say, with Filin’s active participation and assistance, who did a great deal for tapping his creative potential.

“Dmitrichenko’s personal dislike of Filin related to professional activity was the chief motive behind the crime,” the press-service of the Moscow police force said after the arrest. In particular, Dmitrichenko was very angry the ballet’s artistic director gave his girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova virtually no chance to be engaged to perform solo roles in any classical ballets.

When questioned, Dmitrichenko confessed.

“I masterminded the attack, but not to the degree it all happened in reality,” he told the investigators. He said he had never wished Filin to be harmed with sulfuric acid. It would have been enough to punish the choreographer, to humiliate him. Dmitrichenko hired Yuri Zarutsky hoping he would give Filin a good hard punch. He also promised to pay him 50,000 rubles. However, Zarutsky, an ex-convict, decided to go about this business in his own way.

A confirmation of the rumor Filin had kept Anzhelina Vorontsova on the back burner earlier came from her teacher, one of the leading Bolshoi dancers Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

“She is young and very talented, with all pre-requisites for becoming a prima. She had asked Filin for a solo role in Swan Lake, but Filin refused because, he said, she was still not worthy of that status,” a reliable source told the on-line periodical According to the source, the two men had been at odds for many other reasons, too. In the past, when still a soloist at Bolshoi, Filin was an active trade unionist and earned quite a few enemies. The confrontation lasted after in 2011 he took his current senior position.

In the meantime, reporters have been trying to find out the details of the relations existing among all participants in that row. The Bolshoi has declined to offer any official comments concerning the enmity-fuelled conflict between Filin and Dmitrichenko. Unofficial sources acknowledge – there was a conflict, but there are nuances.

“The affair is so incredible and weird for the Bolshoi theater that it is hard to believe that there is just one ballerina at the heart of the matter. Sergei suspects that the motives of the crime are somewhat different. The young ballerina is just an excuse. But certainly not the root cause of the crime,” Filin’s spouse, Maria Prorvich, also a Bolshoi ballerina told the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. “When the detention happened, we were all shocked. But he is certain that the range of persons involved is far wider than the three men who have been detained.”

“Pavel is a very extraordinary personality, he may be stubborn, he may be easily persuaded, he is a highly flammable personality, even an explosive one,” Dmitrichenko’s colleagues have told the Moscow evening daily Vechernaya Moskva. “But nobody could have ever thought all this would end with a tragedy… Dmitrichenko was obviously being driven towards the crime against Filin by someone else. “

The daily’s reporters have had a word with some people at the theater to have offered the following version being whispered behind the scenes. Dmitrichenko might have been talked into the attack by some other ballet dancers – Ruslan Pronin, Anton Getman and Nikolai Tsiskaridze, with whom he is on friendly terms. As a matter of fact, the latter has already been scrutinized by the investigators. Tsiskaridze made no secret of his negative attitude to Filin.

“I believe that Tsiskaridze was certainly involved. Possibly, not directly, but in some sort of inciting - yes that is for certain…,” a source in the Moscow Bolshoi told Moskovsky Komsomolets. Dmitrichenko is practically Tiskaridze’s son-in-law, because Anzhelina Vorontsova is his favorite disciple. It looks as if she were his daughter.”

“They have got Nikolai’s blessing to get married,” the source said.

However, there is no evidence that might confirm Tsiskaridze – a renowned dancer and Bolshoi teacher – was an accomplice to the crime. It is just known that he is a teacher and friend of young ballerina Anzhelina Vorontsova, Dmitrichenko’s common law wife, who is thought to be the root cause of the crime.

In the meantime, Filin is said to be recovering, says Rossiiskaya Gazeta with reference to personnel at the clinic in Germany where the choreographer is undergoing a course of post-operation rehabilitation. The clinic’s director Peter Walter, said that his colleagues where very pleased to see the results of the preliminary treatment Filin had had in Moscow. Now they are to put the finishing touches and the first results are already in sight.

In an hours-long operation they managed to restore the fibrose eyeball covering by and large.

Professor Walter is optimistic. Apparently, Filin will not lose his eyesight. His patient can see with his left eye satisfactorily already. No forecasts regarding the right eye are possible at this moment, though. The patient is to take a series of other procedures and the course of treatment is bound to last.

In the meantime, the Bolshoi is looking for a substitute who might take Pavel Dmitrichenko’s place. If found guilty, the latter may be sentenced up to fifteen years in jail. Russia’s main theater is reconsidering its repertoire and looking for a new soloist.


MOSCOW, March 7