Friday, January 18, 2013
Bolshoi ballet director maimed in acid attack, may lose eyesight
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet suffered severe burns when acid was thrown in his face, police and media said on Friday, in an attack the head of the prestigious theatre said was part of an intimidation campaign.
The troupe's artistic director, Sergei Filin, was attacked outside his apartment building late on Thursday, police and colleagues said. Interfax news agency cited a medical source who described his condition as stable.
First Channel TV said doctors were "trying to preserve his eyesight".
The theatre in the heart of Moscow is an enduring symbol of Russian culture and a big draw for both locals and foreign tourists, but has seen power struggles among both dancers and directors during its more than 200-year history.
Its head Anatoly Iksanov said he believed the attack was aimed at sowing discord at the Bolshoi, and that the culprit "should be sought among those for whom it was beneficial to compromise the theatre leadership."
He said Filin, 42, had told him of incidents this month in which his car tires were slashed and his email hacked into.
Filin's mother, Natalya, said he had been threatened but that she did not know who could have been behind the attack, state-run RIA news agency reported.
"What's important to me now is the health of my son, that he not lose his eyesight," she was quoted as saying.
Moscow police said an unidentified attacker had splashed acid on the face of a manager at the Bolshoi but did not name the victim.
Ekho Moskvy radio said Filin suffered third-degree burns and that doctors believed it would take him at least six months to recover.
Filin, a Moscow native, joined the Bolshoi's ballet troupe in 1988 and was named its artistic leader in March 2011, after three years in a similar position at another Moscow theatre.
The Bolshoi, which has ballet and opera troupes, reopened last February after a six-year renovation to its colonnaded landmark building near the Kremlin and across the street from a bust of the father of Communism, Karl Marx.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by John Stonestreet)