Star Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko admits to acid attack


Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, seen here performing in November 2012, confessed that he planned the acid attack on Sergei Filin. (STRINGER/RUSSIA/REUTERS)
March 6, 2013

Russian police on Wednesday began to outline the plot that resulted in an acid attack on Sergei Filin , the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, a story of temperamental artists, professional jealousy and possibly a woman scorned.

Pavel Dmitrichenko, a 29-year-old Bolshoi star who was detained Tuesday, confessed Wednesday to the crime, said Maxim Kolosvetov, a Moscow police spokesman.

“I organized this attack,” Dmitrichenko, with dark circles under his eyes and looking slightly disheveled, said in a video shown on Russia 24 state television. He said he had not intended for his scheme to go as far as it did.

Two other characters in the drama were also shown: Yuri Zarutsky, 35, an unemployed man with a criminal record who admitted to throwing the acid, and Andrei Lipatov, 31, a driver who said he
provided transportation without knowing the reason for the trip.

Police said the motive was a
theater-related grudge, but state television reporters offered a narrative with a more detailed emotional arc. Before Filin became the Bolshoi artistic director two years ago, responsible for choosing who danced what part and charting the direction of the company, he was ballet director at the smaller
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater.

There, he tried to hire a young ballerina named Anzhelina Vorontsova, who turned him down to dance at the Bolshoi. Her teacher and mentor at the Bolshoi was Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a dancer who reportedly wanted the Bolshoi job that was given to Filin and has been an outspoken critic of Bolshoi management.

When Filin joined the Bolshoi, he did not promote Vorontsova, according to the television report. In another twist, Dmitrichenko, who was known for his volatile temperament, was reportedly romantically involved with Vorontsova.

Filin, a youthful-looking 42-year-old, was waylaid the night of Jan. 17 as he was returning home after an evening at a theater-world gala. He lived in an apartment not far from the Bolshoi, in a building that was home to other cultural figures. Dmitrichenko also owned an apartment there.

A man who had covered his face with a scarf called out Filin’s name and threw acid on him, burning his face and seriously damaging his eyes. Filin underwent a series of eye operations in Moscow before traveling to Germany for further treatment. The state of his vision has not been revealed.

Police said Zarutsky bought acid, apparently used for batteries, at an auto parts store and mixed it with other ingredients following directions on the Internet. He allegedly put the sulfuric acid in a small jar and confronted Filin.

Bolshoi officials said Wednesday that they will find a replacement for Dmitrichenko, who was supposed to perform in “Sleeping Beauty” on March 16 and “Ivan the Terrible” on April 16.

The attack horrified Moscow residents, who consider the Bolshoi Ballet a cultural jewel emblematic of their city and its treasures.

Police said they developed leads in the case after listening to cellphone conversations from the apartment neighborhood on the night of the attack. The attack was carefully planned, they said, adding that a call was made to tip off the attacker that Filin was on his way home that snowy night.

“People involved in the crime were studying the victim’s schedule, the time he came home,” a police spokesman told the Interfax news agency, “and they purchased cellphones registered in the names of other people.”

If convicted, the three men face up to 12 years in prison. And the career that won Dmitrichenko so much applause has surely been destroyed.

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