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New Information about the Internal Conflicts and the Corruption Scandals Shaking the Bolshoi Theatre

Monday, 11 March 2013 , ora 9.49
More details from our correspondent in Moscow, Vladimir Beleavschi:

The Russian court accepted the prosecution's arguments and decided the arrest of the three defendants, until the 18th April, in the case of the acid attack over Sergei Filin, the artistic manager of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The three accused men were arrested at the beginning of the week, after investigations that lasted only a month and a half, which was rarely the case for the Russian police. The main suspect is the main soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet Company, Pavel Dimitricenko, 29. According to the police, the soloist, who was in conflict with Sergei Filin, wanted to take revenge, so he hired a certain Yuri Zarutsky, a violent man, who had been convicted with robbery and grievous bodily harm. The relationship between the artist and the interloper has a common explanation, apparently: their holiday houses are one next to the each other. Dimitricenko had allegedly given Zarutsky 50,000 roubles, approximately 1,100 euros, and let him know where and when his victim would be at the time of the attack. The third suspect, Andrey Lipatov, is the driver of the car that Zarutsky used.

The incident that shocked the Russian artists' circles, as well as the entire world, took place on 17th January, in the evening, in front of the building where Sergei Filin lives in Moscow. Before entering the building, he heard someone call his name, and when he turned around, the person threw what later turned to be acid, in his face. Sergei Filin suffered third degree burns on the face and severe eye burns, which almost blinded him, and he was immediately hospitalized in Moscow, where he underwent several surgeries which healed his face and saved his eyes. A month ago he was transferred to Germany, where doctors would try to restore his eyesight. In his first statements, Filin said that he had a certain suspect in mind, without giving his name, and that he regretted not taking into account recent threats or breaking his e-mail address.

Pavel Dimitricenko, who admitted to the accusations at first, although not as they had been formulated by the prosecution, withdrew his statements when facing the court. The ballet dancer admits talking to Zarutsky about his conflict with Filin, but he firmly opposed the interloper's proposition to beat him up and he definitely did not order the acid attack.

According to anonymous police sources, young ballerina Angelina Vorontsova, Pavel Dimitricenko's girlfriend, would be one cause, as Sergei Filin allegedly pushed her to the side and did not offer her any main roles.

The reason would be that a few years back, when Filin and Vorontsova used to work in a different theatre, the ballerina refused to enter Filin's ballet company and chose to go to the Bolshoi Theatre, where Sergei Filin was shortly invited as artistic director. This version of the story is not believed by Dimitricenko's colleagues, as least by those who came to the court today to support him. They are convinced that in spite of the rash character, the ballet dancer wouldn't have been able to plot such a crime. They do not believe the passionate crime scenario either, because Angelina Vorontsova cannot complain of any lack of main roles. They add that Dimitricenko himself owes Filin some of his most important roles, including that of Ivan the Terrible, in the eponymous performances, which made him famous.

Sergei Filin, who underwent a new eye surgey in Germany this week, did not comment on the situation, but his wife declared to the press that he considered the people to have been involved in the attack much larger, and that he hoped the investigation would find everybody.

The media, on the other hand, is following another lead. Izvestia newspaper's correspondent states that he had had a private conversation with Dimitricenko before the attack and that the latter was complaining about the corruption ruling the theatre. Because of low wages, several artists find themselves forced to take on shows outside the theatre. However, in order to participate at those, they are forced to bribe their own management. Theatre employees also claim that the person who broke the e-mail addresses of several members of the board was indeed Pavel Dimitricenko, who had found proof of illegal business of the management.

One of the former mail soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre, publicly in conflict with its controversial director, Anatoli Iksanov, speculates on the subject of his possibly being involved in the attack. Meanwhile, opposers of the dissident side are launching similar accusations to this side. Thus, the police declare the file is solved and that it is less likely that other suspects would show up. The three culprits face sentences up to 12 years in prison.

This stance shows that the revenge version for personal reasons seems the most convenient for everybody, for the authorities, because they are not interested in ruining the reputation of a Russian cultural symbol, seeing that the theatre's management is appointed by the government.

Same goes for the Bolshoi Theatre, which the incident has caused new serious harm, as the grand theatre has been shaken with internal conflicts and corruption scandals over the last few years, which have always been based on money and casting roles.

Translated by Irina Borțoi and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University