Suspect in acid attack on Bolshoi ballet chief Sergei Filin detained
By NATALIYA VASILYEVA Associated Press March 5, 2013 8:56AM
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 file photo artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin, speaks with the media as he leaves a hospital in Moscow, Russia. A spokeswoman for the Bolshoi Theater says Tuesday, March 5, 2013, police has detained a suspect in the January acid attack on its artistic director. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)
Updated: March 5, 2013 8:56AM
MOSCOW — Russian police on Tuesday detained a man in the January acid attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet and searched both the suspect’s home and that of one of the theater’s dance stars, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
Sergei Filin was left with severe burns to his eyes and face when an unidentified attacker threw sulfuric acid in his face on Jan. 17 as he was returning home from work. The 42-year-old former dancer is now undergoing treatment and rehabilitation in Germany.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that a suspect in the attack was detained on Tuesday and is being questioned at a Moscow police station.
Bolshoi Theater spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said she does not know if the suspect is related in any way to the famed theater. She said police were not present at the theater on Tuesday.
Police later on Tuesday searched the apartment of Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, the Interior Ministry said. The ballet star, who has been dancing at the Bolshoi since 2002, is known for his roles as Ivan the Terrible in the ballet of the same name and as the villain in “Swan Lake.”
Novikova said that the management was not aware of a conflict between Dmitrichenko and Filin and has no information about the purpose of the search.
The Bolshoi Theater is one of Russia’s premier cultural institutions, best known for “Swan Lake” and the other grand classical ballets that grace its stage. But backstage, the ballet company has been troubled by deep intrigue and infighting that have led to the departure of several artistic directors over the past few years.
Filin’s colleagues have said the attack could be in retaliation for his selection of certain dancers over others for prized roles. Filin told Russian state television before he checked out of a Moscow hospital that he knew who ordered the attack but wouldn’t give names.
Novikova told reporters on Tuesday that the attacker had an accomplice and police are now looking for that person.
“We hope that today’s detention means that this crime will be solved,” she said.
Russian news agencies reported that the suspect was detained in the town of Stupino, a sprawling Moscow suburb which among other thing hosts summer houses owned by the Bolshoi Theater and used by dancers and management. Dmitrichenko said in a recent interview that he was acting as the dachas’ manager in his spare time.
In a February interview with Snob magazine, the Bolshoi’s general director, Anatoly Iksanov, said the attack on Filin was inspired by longtime leading dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
“I don’t blame that particular crime on him, but I’m accusing Nikolai of escalating the situation at the theater, of putting psychological pressure on the theater’s staff and management, on Filin, on myself and teachers,” he said.
Tsiskaridze, a long-time critic of the theater’s management, has denied the allegation and accused Iksanov and his allies of fueling the dispute.
Many ballet stars, including Anastasia Volochkova, have sided with Tsiskaridze. Alexei Ratmansky, the Bolshoi ballet’s artistic director from 2004 until 2008, likened the atmosphere at the theater to “a disgusting cesspool” and said that the attack stems from “ the lack of any ethics at the theater.”
Ratmansky is now an artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theater in New York.
Yelena Yegorova and Laura Mills contributed to this report.