Bolshoi Ballet director says acid attack was likely an inside job

(Alexander Natruskin/Reuters)

MOSCOW -- Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin, who was attacked with acid last week, said Tuesday that he believes the assault had to do with his role with the storied ballet company.

“I associate what happened with my work,” he said in an interview with the daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. “I have provoked an aggression in somebody. Sooner or later this aggression was to take the shape of concrete action.”

Someone wearing a mask threw sulfuric acid in Filin’s face late Thursday as he was getting out of his car near his house in downtown Moscow.

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Filin, 42, suffered third-degree burns as well as extensive damage to his eyes. His eyes were operated on Friday with further surgeries scheduled this week. Doctors have said he will not lose his eyesight as initially feared but he will require plastic surgery and months of treatment.

Filin told Pravda that even though he had been receiving multiple threats by phone he couldn’t believe it could come “to direct violence.”

The Bolshoi leader since 2011, Filin hinted that the motive for the attack likely had to do with the way he assigns roles to dancers in the Bolshoi productions.

He said that the competition for roles has always been tough in the Bolshoi, dating to before the days he was a dancer with the company starting in the late ‘80s. In Soviet times dancers sometimes found crushed glass in their pointe shoes.

“But none of us had a desire to pour another person with sulfuric acid,” he said.

“I don’t know who could have done it but I am sure there are such people. If this crime remains unsolved I don’t even know what to believe in then.”

In the midst of the surgeries, he said he was most worried about his eyesight.

“Since acid was thrown at me from the right side, my right eye was damaged worse than the left,” he said. “I am not losing spirit.

“For me the main thing is to be able to think and to continue to work,” he said. “I have three sons and I want to see them grow and mature.”

The Bolshoi announced Tuesday that its star, Galina Stepanenko, will be the ballet’s acting artistic chief in Filin’s absence. The decision was coordinated with and encouraged by Filin, said the theater’s general director Anatoly Iksanov to state news agency RIA Novosti.

“She is valued and respected [by the company],” he said.


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