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Dancer Confesses in Bolshoi Acid Attack

Dmitrichenko in police custody.
Bolshoi ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two accomplices have partially confessed to organizing the January acid attack on Bolshoi ballet director Sergei Filin over a work conflict.

But Dmitrichenko’s colleagues doubted his confession, saying his temper wasn’t consistent with cultivating revenge plans. Meanwhile, media reports continue to implicate prominent Bolshoi dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze in the attack.

In a video released Wednesday by the Life News online tabloid, which has connections with police, Dmitrichenko, the suspected mastermind, said he ordered the attack “but not in the extent to which it happened,” he said without elaborating, adding that he had described the reasons in a police report.

Dmitrichenko, whom an understudy will replace in the current production of “Sleeping Beauty,” was motivated by “personal enmity … linked to work activities,” a police source told Interfax. Dmitrichenko told police he had asked the executors of the attack only to “intimidate” Filin and did not know they would fling acid at him.

Andrei Lipatov, an unemployed Moscow region resident, confessed to driving the suspected attacker, Yury Zarutsky, to the crime scene and taking him away after some time. But he said he had been unaware of Zarutsky’s criminal plans and did not witness the crime.

Zarutsky, an ex-convict residing in a region neighboring the Moscow region, refused to testify in front of the video camera. But he told investigators that he had found on the Internet a recipe for making sulfuric acid because the substance was not sold on the open market, Life News reported.

Zarutsky bought a weak form of the acid at a Moscow region store selling spare car parts and boiled the acid down to increase its concentration, police said in a statement.

The three suspects detained Tuesday wrote confessions, the official police website said Wednesday. They face up to 12 years in prison on charges of causing grave harm to a person’s health with prior collusion. Dmitrichenko, Lipatov and Zarutsky are expected to be officially charged Thursday, Interfax reported.

Also Thursday, Moscow’s Tagansky District Court is scheduled to hear the request by investigators to sanction the arrest of the three suspects, Interfax reported. Legal news agency Rapsi planned to broadcast live from the courtroom starting at 10 a.m.

Filin was not “stunned” to learn the identities of the suspects and would demand that his attackers pay for his treatment, his lawyer Tatyana Stukalova told Interfax.

In December, Dmitrichenko had a conflict with Filin over the artistic director’s refusal to give a lead role to Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend, another Bolshoi dancer, Angelina Vorontsova, members of the troupe told Izvestia on condition of anonymity. Filin allegedly told Vorontsova to look at herself in the mirror to see that she is fat.

But although Dmitrichenko is quick-tempered, he is easily appeased, the sources said.

A close friend called him a “quick” and “spontaneous” person who “immediately … expresses both anger and admiration.” The friend said he could not imagine that Dmitrichenko would “play a waiting game” and “cultivate a plan of such evildoing.”

Another colleague said that Dmitrichenko “lacks patience to lay such a complicated scheme” and that Dmitrichenko and Vorontsova were dancing a number of lead roles, so they had no serious grounds to take offense at Filin.

But in December, Dmitrichenko and Vorontsova complained about their conflict with Filin to Tsiskaridze, Vorontsova’s current tutor, who allegedly said Filin “might lose desire to look at himself in the mirror,” Izvestia wrote. Tsiskaridze has been reported to be struggling with Filin for influence in the theater, although Tsiskaridze denies that.

Filin may have held a grudge against Vorontsova several years ago.

In 2008, he helped her move to Moscow from her native town of Voronezh, planning to take her into the troupe of Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, where he was artistic director at the time. But Vorontsova, who accepted his financial aid, went to work at the Bolshoi, Izvestia reported.

City Police Chief Anatoly Yakunin has asked Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev to recognize police officers who helped solved the case of the attack on Filin, Interfax reported.

Filin was attacked outside his apartment building in downtown Moscow on the night of Jan. 17. He suffered severe burns to his face and eyes and has undergone several surgeries and needs a few more, but it is so far unclear whether his eyesight will be fully restored.

In late January, Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Tsiskaridze “could have neither carried out nor organized” the attack but that “by his unpunished behavior, he led the situation in the theater to the state where someone else could have gone further” and splashed Filin with acid.  

The Bolshoi spokeswoman said this week that Filin’s colleagues at the theater were expecting him to return to work in the summer.

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