Skip to main content

Bolshoi Ballet 'villain' arrested in director's acid attack

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 10:00 AM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Judge orders all three men to be held in police custody
  • "I organized this attack, but not to the extent that it happened," dancer says
  • Police say the motive was a "hostile relationship"
  • State media: Filin had suffered intimidation, including threatening phone calls

(CNN) -- Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, often cast as the villain in Bolshoi Ballet productions, is now the lead defendant in a plot worthy of a Tchaikovsky score.

The 29-year-old allegedly choreographed an attack intended to blind Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, the man who put him in the roles of Ivan the Terrible and Swan Lake's evil genius.

The mystery of who threw sulfuric acid into Filin's face in January has captivated Russians and kept Moscow detectives busy probing rivalries within Russia's renowned 240-year-old ballet company.

Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko allegedly planned an attack intended to blind Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin.
Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko allegedly planned an attack intended to blind Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin.

It might well send Hollywood literary agents and producers scrambling for story details as described by police reports and local media accounts.

Police declared their case was solved this week with a confession by Dmitrichenko

Russian police question suspect in Bolshoi director's acid attack

"I organized this attack but not to the extent that it happened," he is heard saying in a video released by police.

The characters in this drama include Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova. She has not been charged, but local newspapers quote ballet members as saying Dmitrichenko was angry because he thought Filin was stifling her career.

Two alleged co-conspirators have been detained: Alleged hit man Yuri Zarutsky -- a burly, bearded Russian who was previously convicted of beating someone to death -- and Andrey Lipatov, who allegedly drove the getaway car after Zarutksy's battery acid attack on Filin.

While the final act must still play out in a Russian courtroom, the story opens in the nearly two-century-old Bolshoi Theatre.

Act 1 - The Bolshoi Theatre

Ballet is a world where competition is fierce, and where the artistic director wields considerable influence in making or breaking careers.

Filin, 42, was promoted to the Bolshoi Theatre's coveted post in March 2011, shortly after the deputy ballet director, Gennady Yanin, who was widely seen as a favorite for the artistic director post, resigned when pornographic pictures of him surfaced online.

Police: Three confess to acid attack
Bolshoi director: I know who attacked me
Bolshoi director speaks about acid attack

There was "fierce rivalry" for the Bolshoi position at the time, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

That year, two dancers quit, unhappy with the direction the ballet had taken.

Another dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, loudly criticized Filin for going over budget in the ballet's multimllion-dollar renovation.

Tsiskaridze, incidentally, was also a contender for the artistic director job that Filin got.

But beyond professional disagreements, sinister factors were also at play.

Act 2 - The Streets of Moscow

RIA Novosti reported that before the attack, Filin suffered months of intimidation, including threatening phone calls.

Someone slashed his car tires. Somebody also attempted to hack his Facebook page.

The trio of conspirators obtained battery acid at a car parts store, and made the acid stronger by evaporating the water from it, police said.

Dmitrichenko, who studied Filin's schedule, called Lipatov and Zarutsky when he saw Filin leave the theater on the cold night of January 17, police said.

As Filin entered the security code at the door of his Moscow apartment, authorities say, Zarutsky confronted him and tossed the sulfuric acid into his face. It caused third-degree burns and left him blinded.

Act 3 - Moscow Police Headquarters

Detectives pored over interviews with those who knew Filin and had suspicions about who would harm him. Other clues led them to several cell phones that Dmitrichenko had registered in other people's names, according to a police statement.

Calls from those phones led investigators to Lipatov, the alleged driver.

"I didn't see what happened there," Lipatov told them in a video released by police. "I just took Yuri there, waited for him and gave him a lift back."

When an interrogator asked Zarutsky about the crime, he allegedly said, "I don't want to talk about it."

Police concluded a "hostile relationship" stemming from Dmitrichenko's professional interaction with Filin was his motive.

Bolshoi Prima ballerina's grace under pressure

Act 4 - A Moscow Court

The three men faced a judge Thursday, who ordered that they be kept in police custody until the investigation is over.

If convicted, the attackers could face up to eight years in jail for willfully inflicting damage on the health of another.

It may take at least six months for Filin to recover from the burns.

In the meantime, Galina Stepanenko, a former principal dancer, will run the company.

She says she's going to follow Filin's plans and she believes the dancers will now be united by greater respect and care for each other.

Doctors performed a skin graft on Filin and, after a second eye surgery, they were able to save his sight.

His colleagues are now working to ensure his artistic vision isn't lost.

Read the latest news on CNN.com

CNN's Phil Black and Alla Eshchenko in Moscow contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:55 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 6:12 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Whether he's dressing naked statues in white tees, creating voluminous balloons shaped like human buttocks or setting up gigantic 3D zippers, Jun Kitagawa's public art is whimsical, erotic and playful.
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 1:30 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT