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Suspect in acid attack on Bolshoi chief detained

In this Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011, file photo the Bolshoi Theater artistic director Sergei Filin speaks prior a dress rehearsal of the ballet The Sleeping Beauty in the Bolshoi Theater in a head of the primer in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW: Police have detained a suspect in the January acid attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet and are searching the home of a ballet star, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

Sergei Filin was left with severe burns to his eyes and face when an unidentified attacker threw sulfuric acid in his face on Jan. 17 as he was returning home from work. The 42-year-old former dancer is now undergoing treatment and rehabilitation in Germany.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that a suspect in the attack was detained on Tuesday and is being questioned at a Moscow police station. Police officers are also searching the suspect's home, the statement said, without providing any details on the suspect.

Bolshoi Theater spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said she does not know if the suspect is related in any way to the famed theater. She said police were not present at the theater on Tuesday.

Police later on Tuesday searched the apartment of Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, the Interior Ministry said. The ballet star, who has been dancing at the Bolshoi since 2002, is known for his roles as Ivan the Terrible and Evil Villain in Swan Lake.

Novikova said that the management was not aware of a conflict between Dmitrichenko and Filin and has no information about the purpose of the search.

The Bolshoi Theater is one of Russia's premier cultural institutions, best known for "Swan Lake" and the other grand classical ballets that grace its stage. But backstage, the ballet company has been troubled by deep intrigue and infighting that have led to the departure of several artistic directors over the past few years.

Filin's colleagues have said the attack could be in retaliation for his selection of certain dancers over others for prized roles. Filin told Russian state television before he checked out of a Moscow hospital that he knew who ordered the attack but wouldn't give names.

Novikova told reporters on Tuesday that the attacker had an accomplice and police are now looking for that person.

"We hope that today's detention means that this crime will be solved," she said.

In a February interview with Snob magazine, the Bolshoi's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, said the attack on Filin was inspired by longtime leading dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

"I don't blame that particular crime on him, but I'm accusing Nikolai of escalating the situation at the theater, of putting psychological pressure on the theater's staff and management, on Filin, on myself and teachers," he said.

Tsiskaridze, a long-time critic of the theater's management, has denied the allegation and accused Iksanov and his allies of fueling the dispute.

Many ballet stars, including Anastasia Volochkova, have sided with Tsiskaridze. Alexei Ratmansky, the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director from 2004 until 2008, likened the atmosphere at the theater to "a disgusting cesspool" and said that the attack stems from " the lack of any ethics at the theater."

Ratmansky is now an artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theater in New York.

 

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