A Bolshoi ballet dancer accused of ordering an attack on the troupe’s artistic director Sergei Filin has told a court he gave the go-ahead for the attack but did not order acid to be used.
Soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko appeared in court for a bail hearing on Thursday along with two other men accused of helping carry out the acid attack.
The two other suspects are Yuri Zarutsky, who is suspected of throwing the acid at Filin, and Andrei Lipatov, who is accused of driving a getaway vehicle.
Police say all three men confessed on Wednesday after they were detained on Tuesday.
On January 17, Filin, 42 was waylaid as he returned home from a gala event. He was approached by a man wearing a scarf over his face who called out Filin’ s name before throwing sulfuric acid in the director’s face.
During the acid attack, Filin’s eyesight was badly damaged, and he was left with third degree facial burns. After a series of operations on his eyes, the director was moved to Germany for treatment. There have been no firm reports on the current state of his eyesight.
The attack horrified Moscow residents and cultural community, not least for the sheer horror of what happened but also because of national media reports of chronic, political infighting in the Bolshoi theater.
Dmitrichenko, a 29-year-old soloist, had been with the Bolshoi company since 2002. He is leading soloist at the theater, with a rank just one below the most senior male dancers known as premiers.
On Thursday, he told the Moscow court that he had complained about Filin to an acquaintance who offered to “beat him up.”
“It’s not true that I ordered him to throw acid at Filin,” Dmitrichenko is quoted as saying.
Dmitrichenko also said that, while he knew Yury Zarutsky, who has confessed to throwing the acid, “I never wanted to bring harm to a person.”
Addressing the court from a cage, the soloist was reportedly defiant. When the judge asked him if he wanted to apologize to Filin, Dmitrichenko replied: “For what?”
Police say Dmitrichenko was motivated to organize the attack on because of “personal hostile relations linked to their professional activities,” while Russia’s state-run television and press have run with a narrative that Dmitrichenko was angry over Filin’s treatment of Anzhelina Vorontsova — a Bolshoi ballerina who is Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend and who was previously mentored by Filin at another ballet company.
Dmitrichenko was reportedly upset over Filin’s refusal to give Vorontsova the lead role in a Bolshoi production of Swan Lake in December, prompting him to plot the attack on Filin.
In court, Dmitrichenko said he was upset over Filin’s allegedly unfair practice of allocating money to certain dancers at the theater. He said he complained to Zarutsky, who had told him he was “a man who could solve anything,” adding that he was shocked when Zarutsky suggested beating up Filin.
Police said on Thursday that Dmitrichenko paid Zarutsky 50,000 roubles ($1,628) to carry out the attack.
Dmitrichenko, Zarutsky, and Lipatov, who has also confessed to his part in the attack, face up to 12 years in prison if they are found guilty of conspiracy to cause bodily harm.
All three men were denied bail at the hearing, and the judge ruled that they remain in custody pending a trial.
Meanwhile, Bolshoi officials said Wednesday that they were now looking for a replacement for Dmitrichenko, who was due to perform in two productions —- “Sleeping Beauty” on March 16 and “Ivan the Terrible” on April 16.