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Bolshoi dancer held in acid attack on director

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By The Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

MOSCOW — Police detained and questioned three people, including a principal Bolshoi Ballet dancer, as suspects in the acid attack that almost blinded Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi's artistic director.

The crime casts a shadow on Moscow's iconic company and exposes bitter infighting among its dancers.

Principal dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, detained on Tuesday, was reportedly suspected of masterminding the attack. Police also brought in Yuri Zarutski, 35, believed to be Filin's assailant, as well as Andrei Lipatov, a man suspected of driving Zarutski to and from the attack, according to a statement on the Interior Ministry website.

A masked assailant threw sulfuric acid at Filin outside his home Jan. 17 — searing his face and neck with third-degree burns and damaging his eyesight. The attack reverberated through international ballet circles and cast a spotlight on rivalries and intrigue within the Bolshoi — one of the most prominent ballet companies in the world, whose grand theater recently reopened after renovation.

Filin is in Germany receiving treatment. He has had more than 10 surgeries, and his condition is steadily improving, Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said. Filin, 42, may be back to work as early as summer, she said.

“The detainment gives us hope that the perpetrators will be found and punished,” Novikova said.

She said Filin had been threatened by phone and had his Facebook account hacked before the attack. Novikova said she hopes authorities would find those responsible.

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