A leading dancer at Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre appeared in court on Thursday after confessing to planning the acid attack on the ballet troupe’s artistic director Sergei Filin, reportedly in revenge for his treatment of his dancer girlfriend.
A Moscow district court was to decide whether to remand in custody leading Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko as well as the suspected perpetrator of the attack and the getaway driver.
Looking drawn and wearing a black coat, Dmitrichenko sat in the corner of the courtroom cage as his hearing got underway, nervously exchanging glances with his defence lawyer.
The defence asked that he should be released on 500,000 rubles (HK$126,269) bail.
Police said in a statement that Dmitrichenko had paid the perpetrator Yuri Zarutsky 50,000 rubles (HK$12,626) 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.
The attack left 42-year-old Filin battling to save his eyesight and prevent permanent facial disfigurement. He is now undergoing a long rehabilitation in Germany.
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 were involved.
“Not just the three who they arrested. We hope the security forces unearth those who are implicated in this,” she said.
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.