Top Bolshoi ballerina takes leave of absence following threats

By Daniel S Levine,

Svetlana Lunkina, a respected member of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, has left Russia amid fears from threats and blackmail. Lunkina’s decision comes days after the prestigious organization’s artistic director was the victim of an acid attack.

According to Reuters, Lunkina spoke with Russia’s Izvestia about these alleged threats, which she says were not because of her role at Bolshoi. Instead, she said the threats stem from an argument between her husband and a business partner over their attempt to make a film about the late dancer Matilda Kshesinskaya.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with me, but they sent letters disparaging me ... to all the theatres,” Lunkina told the paper. She noted that her Facebook page was also hacked.

The Canadian Press reports that Lunkina has been in Canada, where she established a dance studio in Ontario six months ago and is set to start teaching at another school there. She said that she is afraid to leave Canada.

“We need to react to these threats,” she told Izvestia. “These people have no right to interfere in our private lives or my professional work.”

This news comes after Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin had acid thrown in his face by a masked attacker. He had been receiving threats for months before the attack, but Lunkina claims that the threats she received have no connection.

She explained that Filin was supported her decision to stay in Canada.

"I very much wanted to return (to the Bolshoi) and still want to, but I found out recently that my artistic director Sergei Filin does not want this,” she said. “He told the dancers: 'Lunkina won't be back.'”



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