Bolshoi Ballet dancer confesses to acid attack: police
US-RUSSIA-BOLSHOI:Bolshoi Ballet dancer confesses to acid attack: police
By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW (Reuters) - One of the top dancers at Russia's Bolshoi Theatre has confessed to plotting an acid attack that nearly blinded the troupe's artistic director, police said on Wednesday.
Ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, who has played the evil villain in Swan Lake and the crazed monarch in Ivan The Terrible, was detained on Tuesday over a crime that has shocked Russia and damaged the reputation of one its leading cultural institutions, revealing bitter rivalries behind the scenes.
Police said Dmitrichenko had confessed to planning the attack in which a masked assailant threw a jar of sulphuric acid in the face of artistic director Sergei Filin outside his Moscow apartment late on January 17, causing severe burns.
Two other men have also admitted their involvement, police said. One said he had thrown the acid at Filin and the other said he had driven the getaway car.
"At this time, all three have confessed to guilt in writing and have been detained," police said in a statement.
The motive was not clear although some Russian media said he had missed out on several top roles. Other media said he had been angry that a female dancer with whom he was close had failed to win better roles. The reports were not immediately confirmed.
Before flying to Germany for treatment last month, Filin, 42, said he believed he knew who was behind the attack and that he thought it was connected with his work.
The attack has shocked even in a country used to the violent settling of scores in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, damaging the prestige of an enduring symbol of Russian culture built under Empress Catherine the Great.
LONG HISTORY OF INTRIGUE
The management of the Bolshoi, which declined to make any statement on Wednesday, had been hoping that none of the ballet company was behind the attack.
Newspapers published photographs on Wednesday of a scowling Dmitrichenko in costume as the mad Tsar Ivan the Terrible, the power hungry medieval leader demonized in Russian art for killing his own son and the heir to the throne.
Dmitrichenko, who is from Moscow and believed to be aged 29, had danced in the Bolshoi Theatre troupe since 2002 and was to dance in "Sleeping Beauty" this month. He could now face jail and possibly the end of his dance career.
As artistic director of the theatre's ballet company, Filin had the power to make or break careers in the fiercely competitive world of ballet.
Life News, a Russian website with close ties to the police, said the suspected attacker, Yury Zarutsky, and his driver, Andrei Lipatov, were found by tracking cell phone calls made from the crime scene.
The theatre has been no stranger to intrigue since it was built in 1776 and the ballet troupe has gone through five artistic directors since 1995.
In 2003, Bolshoi bosses were heavily criticized for trying to fire ballerina Anastasia Volochkova for being too heavy. In 2011, deputy ballet director Gennady Yanin, then seen as a candidate for the artistic director post, quit after pornographic images of him appeared on the Internet.
The theatre, near Moscow's Red Square, reopened to great fanfare in 2011 after a six-year, $700-million renovation that restored its tsarist opulence but was criticized for going far over budget.
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Patrick Graham)