MOSCOW: The Bolshoi ballet's artistic director underwent plastic surgery Tuesday after being splashed in the face with acid in a horrific attack that he fears could leave him blind.
Doctors at a Moscow hospital said Sergei Filin remained in a stable condition following the attack by a hooded assailant in a parking lot outside his home on Thursday night.
The 42-year-old blamed the incident on a heated rivalry at one of the world's top ballet companies and said what he most feared now was permanently losing his sight.
"My eyes worry me the most," Filin told the popular Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
The ballet director added that he can now barely see anything other than light and shade.
"Sometimes I get to see all the fingers on my hand," Filin said. "This fills me with optimism and hope."
Doctors said Monday they hoped to save Filin's vision in at least one eye but ruled out the possibility of his travelling abroad for treatment because of his weakened state.
The incident has shocked the global artistic community and brought to light the simmering and often bitter rivalries between the stars at the venerable 237-year-old theatre.
The third-degree burns forced Filin to undergo an emergency eye operation on Friday and have plastic surgery Tuesday aimed at removing some of his skin destroyed by the acid.
The state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a hospital source as saying the operation was progressing without complications. Another procedure on Filin's eyes has been set for Wednesday.
The ballet great said he regularly talks to his staff by telephone and finds it difficult to believe that personal rivalries could have led to such an act of violence.
"I associate what happened with my work," Filin told Komsomolskaya Pravda.
"The only thing I blame myself for is carelessness," he added. "I should have told the media about the threats right away, before New Year."
Filin has reported that his car tyres were slashed in the week preceding Thursday's acid attack.
One of his social media accounts was also hacked and its contents -- including some private exchanges of an explicit nature -- were published online in what friends interpreted as a broader intimidation campaign.
But Filin named no suspects in the interview and stressed that his spirits remained high.
Instead he promised with a touch of humour to return as strong as ever to his job.
"I don't promise to come back looking pretty. But I guarantee that I will come back full of strength."