Sergei Filin, artistic director for Russia’s world renowned Bolshoi Ballet, became the victim of a horrific acid attack on Thursday January 17.
The 42-year-old artistic director was making his way to his central Moscow home when a masked assailant threw sulphuric acid in his face. Since then, doctors in Russia have been working to save his eyesight. Filin is being treated for third degree facial burns.
At first it was thought that Filin would lose his eyesight completely, but now Russian doctors have said the ex-ballet dancer could regain the sight in at least one eye.
However, doctors have sounded a note of caution.
Although the first operation conducted on Saturday was a success, they have warned that a series of operations are needed before they can definitively say Filin’s sight will be restored. Further operations on Filin’s skin are also scheduled for next week.
Sky News reports that Moscow health service’s top eyesight specialist Larisa Mashetova said on Russian television that:
“The trend is generally positive. He is regaining sight faster in one eye, but I think that we are going to even things out for both. Still, the recovery process will take a lot of time.”
Moscow health department chief Georgy Golukhov added:
“We have completed the first of what might be three or four procedures. He can see slightly better out of his right eye than the left.”
CCTV footage of the January 17 attack showed a figure fleeing from the crime scene through an empty outdoor car park in the dark, but as yet Moscow police have only arrested one person believed to be behind hackings of Filin’s email account.
So far, no-one has been arrested for the acid attack.
Over the weekend police interviewed Bolshoi dancers and directors. Many of those interviewed have since spoken of vicious infighting at the Bolshoi, with some saying the attack on Filin — who was made artistic director in 2011 — could be linked to jealousy arising from his decision to award major roles to his favorite dancers.
According to The Independent, Filin had previously received threats, had defamatory messages about him posted online, and also had the tires on his car slashed. They also recount a long and ugly history of malignancy at the heart of an art-form that — ironically — produces heights of great cultural beauty.
On Friday, Filin went on Russian TV on Friday and said of the attack:
“I got scared, to be honest, I thought he would shoot me. I understood the (courtyard) door didn’t open after I dialled the code and I turned away to run but he was faster and got ahead – I had a jacket hood on – and he splashed something into my face from below.”
Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, who visited Filin in hospital on Sunday, has since spoken of the director’s focus despite the attack, saying:
“To my shock, what we ended up discussing was not his current state or personal fortunes, but his creative plans.We talked about who might lead the troupe for now.”