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Bolshoi dancer pleads not guilty to January acid attack

Bolshoi dancer pleads not guilty to January acid attack
Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading dancer at Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing in Moscow on Tuesday. (Vasily Maximov / AFP/Getty Images)

A former soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow has reportedly pleaded not guilty to accusations he organized an acid attack in January on the company's artistic director, Sergei Filin, leaving the victim with severe burns and eye damage.

At a court hearing in Moscow on Tuesday, Pavel Dmitrichenko formally entered a plea of not guilty. The Associated Press reported that Dmitrichenko has denied that he organized the assault with the help of Yuri Zarutsky, who is  suspected of physically carrying out the attack. Zarutsky is facing trial along with Andrei Lipatov, the suspected driver.

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Dmitrichenko appeared in court last week but the hearing was cut short because of the absence of a lawyer. At the time, the dancer's lawyer told the Times that "there is not a shred of evidence in the case which could implicate Pavel in the crime wrongly attributed to him."

Filin has returned to work at the Bolshoi following a number of surgical procedures. But his eyesight remains impaired and he faces additional operations.

On Tuesday, another former Bolshoi dancer was making headlines in Russia. Nikolai Tsiskaridze has reportedly been appointed to the role of acting director at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St Petersburg. The outspoken dancer was dismissed from the Bolshoi this summer following a dispute with company management.

Tsiskaridze has repeatedly criticized Bolshoi management, and has even speculated publicly that the January acid attack never took place and was a fabrication of the company's leaders.

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