Russian ballet dancer jailed for acid attack

Court sentences former Bolshoi dancer to six years in prison for his role in assault on creative director.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 17:24
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A Russian court has found former Bolshoi dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, guilty for the January acid attack that nearly blinded the company's artistic director, Sergei Filin.

Dmitrichenko was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in a penal colony, marking the finale to a high-profile case that exposed deep rivalries within the world-famous ballet company.

Judge Yelena Maksimova convicted Dmitrichenko and his two co-defendants of inflicting premeditated grievous bodily harm on the company's artistic director.

The attack caused severe injuries to both Filin's eyes and skin, forcing him to undergo dozens of operations.

Filin revealed in an emotional testimony last month that his eyesight was so bad he could not even see his children.

I heard Anzhelina talking to her teacher about an acid attack on Filin. I went to the internet and it was full of it. I was in shock. I didn't sleep that night.

 Pavel Dmitrichenko, former Bolshoi dancer

Dmitrichenko is known for dancing dark characters and masterminded the attack on Filin because he was unsatisfied with how the artistic director managed the dancers.

"Dmitrichenko was unhappy with the way Filin allocated roles and bonuses to dancers," Maksimova said in the final hearing of the trial.

But Dmitrichenko claimed he only asked Zarutsky to "rough up" Filin and did not ask for acid to be used.

He also said he was horrified to hear his then girlfriend and fellow dancer, Anzhelina Vorontsova, discussing the acid attack.

"I heard Anzhelina talking to her teacher about an acid attack on Filin," he said. "I went to the internet and it was full of it. I was in shock. I didn't sleep that night," he told the court.

Dmitrichenko's accomplice corroborated the statement that the dancer did not know about the acid, saying he acted independently and never told Dmitrichenko of his plan. 

String of scandals

Zarutsky was sentenced to ten years in a special penal colony for repeat offenders, while Lipatov, who only drove Zarutsky to the scene of the crime, was handed a four-year jail term in a strict regime colony, like Dmitrichenko.

"The verdict is unfounded, we will appeal," Dmitrichenko's lawyer Sergei Kadyrov said after the audience had filed out of the courtroom.

Dmitrichenko and the two others had been in pre-trial detention since March, appearing in a cage at hearings in the packed courtroom.

His supporters published an open letter in the Izvestia Daily, praising Dmitrichenko as a "proper" man with "wonderful human qualities," saying his guilt was not proven.

The 29-year-old dancer hails from a family of dancers. His parents performed with the renowned Russian dancer, Igor Moiseyev's folk dance troupe. 

The acid attack trial led to the ousting of Bolshoi general director, Anatoly Iksanov, and star dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

Chief conductor, Vasily Sinaisky, also quit on Monday just weeks before the premiere of Verdi's opera, "Don Carlos."

The Bolshoi, known for its elegant ballets and stunning operas, has suffered a string of scandals in the past several years, including smear campaigns and overspending on renovations.


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