Bolshoi Ballet says artistic director Sergei Filin was attacked because of his work

By Daniel S Levine,

Police say they have figured out what substance was thrown at Sergei Filin, the artistic director of Russia’s prestigious Bolshoi Ballet troupe, last week when he was attacked. Bolshoi officials also confirm that they believe he was attacked because of his work with the troupe.

Last Thursday, a masked attacker threw acid in the 42-year-old Filin’s face. The former dancer had faced fierce competition when he was named to the post in 2011 and was in stable condition. Doctors feared that he could lose his eyesight.

According to The New York Times, a police official told the Interfax news agency that they believe the attacker threw sulfuric acid at Filin’s face. This burns the cornea at contact and typically leads to blindness.

The attack followed weeks of anonymous threats, Bolshoi officials say, adding that they believe Filin was targeted because of his job.

“Someone’s not pleased that I am leading the Bolshoi Theater well and successfully,” Filin said in a short TV interview from the hospital over the weekend.

Filin first underwent surgery Friday and will have a second operation early this week. Offiicals say that he will not be fully blinded and recovery will take months.

The U.K. Telegraph notes that Filin’s colleagues aren’t too surprised that something like this happened, especially with the competitive nature that surrounds the historic troupe.

Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov told the Telegraph that he believes the “aim of the attack was to undermine the theatre management. He told me he felt like he was on the frontlines.”

Iksanov added, “Sergei is a very principled man in that respect. He has a vision, and he will stick to it - and he won't cast dancers if he has any doubt that they are right for the role.”

Investigators are currently looking at several theories, from grudges to money disputes. Filin still has three years left of his contract and he is committed to continuing at the Bolshoi.

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