MOSCOW -- Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Theater ballet artistic director who suffered serious burns over his face and body from an acid attack earlier this year, made an emotional appearance in court Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first and likely last time.
“I will not forgive anybody for what happened,” Filin, 43, said firmly without looking toward the cage that held the three defendants, Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, a leading Bolshoi ballet soloist who is charged with masterminding the plan, and two men who have been indicted for carrying it out.
During more than two hours of testimony, Filin broke down, sobbing, as he laid out a detailed picture of the animosity and threats that he said he suffered at the Bolshoi Theater ever since he -- a former Bolshoi star dancer -- returned to lead its ballet company in 2011. He blamed most of his difficulties on Dmitrichenko.
Filin appeared in court in a tailored black suit and dark buttoned-up shirt, his pallid and scarred face covered by large sunglasses. Since the attack, he has gone through 23 complicated plastic surgeries and eye surgeries in both Russia and Germany.
During his testimony, Filin had to interrupt the hearing half a dozen times to go into an adjacent room where his doctor administered eye medication.
Filin filed a civil suit against the three defendants Wednesday demanding a $109,000 compensation for material and moral damage.
Near the end of Filin's testimony, Judge Yelena Maximova asked him to explain what he meant by moral suffering. He started to speak but was overcome with emotion, covering his mouth and running into an adjacent room. Filin returned seconds later and continued.
“This is the most difficult part,” he proceeded in a trembling voice, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I lost my vision and I can’t see my children as they are watching my pain from the side.”
Then he began sobbing and the judge asked him not to continue.
Dmitrichenko blandly apologized, saying that he accepted moral responsibility for the attack but immediately added that he had not organized it.
At the start of the hearing, Filin said he didn’t know and couldn’t identify the two attackers. He said he could remember only “two eyes looking at him from under the hood” before sulfuric acid was thrown into his face on the night of Jan. 17 near his house in downtown Moscow.
“My face was exploding as I was screaming for help as I had never felt this kind of pain before, but help was not coming,” he recalled. “My vision was gone and I was swearing and falling and getting up and stumbling and falling again and yelling. I dropped my phone and since it was white I couldn’t find in the snow to call somebody.”
Filin testified that he believed Dmitrichenko was driven by “envy and extreme animosity” toward him.
Filin said the atmosphere around him was getting thicker before the Jan. 17 attack. Once his email was hacked and “horrendously distorted” copies of his emails were posted on a fake Facebook account. Later his car tires were slashed and his cellphone line was jammed with hundreds of phone calls terrorizing him for more than a week in January.
Filin recalled a "Giselle" rehearsal early in his tenure in which he criticized some corps dancers for a lack of enthusiasm when out of the blue Dmitrichenko lashed out at him in public.
“I was not rude and didn’t insult anybody when Pavel challenged me, asking how come I dared to humiliate the corps de ballet artists,” Filin said. “This sudden burst of indignation on the part of Pavel seemed very odd to me and since then his public attacks against me only continued to persist.”
“Pavel used any opportunity to slander and blacken me as if I was guilty of all the sins of the Bolshoi Theater,” Filin said.