Thursday March 7, 2013
Bolshoi dancer admits attack but denies planning acid
MOSCOW - A leading Bolshoi Theatre dancer admitted in court Thursday that he ordered an assault on the famed Russian ballet troupe's artistic director but denied ever planning the use of acid to ruin his sight.
The Moscow district court ordered leading Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko remanded in custody until at least April 18 while the investigation proceeds. It was later to make similar decisions on the two other suspects arrested in raids on Tuesday - the suspected perpetrator of the attack and the getaway driver.
Dmitrichenko on Wednesday confessed to planning the attack on the Bolshoi Ballet's chief Sergei Filin, 42, reportedly in revenge for his treatment of his dancer girlfriend.
The acid attack left Filin battling to save his eyesight and prevent permanent facial disfigurement. He is now undergoing a long rehabilitation in Germany.
Looking drawn and wearing a black coat, Dmitrichenko sat in a cage in the corner of the courtroom, nervously exchanging glances with his defence lawyer.
The defence had asked that he should be released on 500,000 rubles ($16,280) bail and said that he "de-facto" admitted his guilt while denying Dmitrichenko had wanted to cause such serious harm to Filin.
"My client never had any intention of causing such harm to health, all the more in such a loathsome way like disfiguring the face or the loss of sight," said defence lawyer Alexander Barkhanov.
Police said in a statement that Dmitrichenko had paid the perpetrator Yuri Zarutsky 50,000 rubles ($1,630) to attack Filin, who had acid flung in his face while returning home on the night of January 17.
Dmitrichenko, who was arrested on Tuesday, was shown in a police video confessing to planning the attack but "not on the scale" that it turned out.
In court he said that it was Zarutsky who had originally suggested attacking Filin as a way of getting back at him for what Dmitrichenko considered his bad leadership of the Bolshoi.
"I told Yuri Zarutsky about the politics that took place in the Bolshoi Theatre, about the violations that took place and the corruption," Dmitrichenko said in televised comments.
"Then he (Zarutsky) suggested: 'Okay, then I'll beat him up' and I agreed to his suggestion. That is all that I am admitting," said Dmitrichenko.
Police have said the crime was motivated by Dmitrichenko's hostile personal relationship with Filin, which Russian press reports have suggested was caused by the Bolshoi chief's refusal to give his ballerina girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova top roles.
"The main motive was enmity towards Filin, who according to the suspect, had a negative attitude towards his partner," a police source told the Izvestia newspaper.
"Dmitrichenko said that Filin was thwarting Vorontsova's artistic career and did not give her the main roles," said the source.
In a tale of bitterness reminiscent of the hit ballet film "Black Swan", Dmitrichenko is reported to have been particularly riled that Vorontsova was not allowed to dance the main Odette-Odile role in "Swan Lake", the dream of any ballerina.
Filin's wife Maria told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily that her husband had suspicions about Dmitrichenko but believed that a "much wider" circle of people was involved.
"Not just the three who they arrested. We hope the security forces unearth those who are implicated in this," she said.
Police however said in a statement that the case was "solved" and no further arrests of suspects were expected.
Some staff at the Bolshoi Theatre have suggested that Dmitrichenko's actions are impossible to comprehend given his own career was on the up after he took the title role in the ballet "Ivan the Terrible".
The third man arrested, driver Andrei Lipatov, insists he just drove to where he was told and had no idea of what Zarutsky was planning. - AFP