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Bolshoi Director Hospitalized With Burns in Acid Attack

Bolshoi Theater director Sergei Filini speaks with media in Moscow on April 7, 2011. Photographer: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images
Bolshoi Theater director Sergei Filini speaks with media in Moscow on April 7, 2011. Photographer: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The artistic director and former star dancer of the Bolshoi Theater was attacked with acid outside his home in central Moscow last night, an assault that police and colleagues said may be linked to his work.

Sergei Filin, who suffered severe burns to his face and damage to his eyes, is not likely to lose his eyesight completely after undergoing a surgery in Moscow, Interfax reported, citing the Bolshoi theater press service.

A masked man attacked Filin at a parking lot near his house at about 11:40 p.m. on Thursday, state television reported. Investigators suspect Filin was targeted because of his professional activities.

“It is clear that this is connected with his work,” Anatoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi’s general director, said at a televised briefing. “The main aim is to sow discord within management.”

Filin has recently been receiving anonymous threats, his e-mail account was hacked and his car’s tires slashed, Iksanov said.

Filin was appointed to a five-year term as director of the ballet company in 2011, according to Bolshoi’s website. Later that year, two of its stars, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, left for a smaller private Mikhailovsky theater in St. Petersburg funded by the Russian fruit magnate Vladimir Kehman.

Filin held a “sweet” position of power and was responsible for assigning roles, which could have inspired resentment, said former Bolshoi ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, dismissed from the theater in 2003 over her weight.

Cruel Ballet

“The cruelty of the ballet world has become pathological”, Volochkova told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “It’s a scary, wild fight. It’s a fight for roles.”

The theater, founded in 1776 during the rule of Catherine the Great, reopened in 2011 after a six-year, $680 million overhaul that was marred with scandals over misspent funds and delays.

In 2011, ballet troupe manager Gennady Yanin was forced to step down after pornographic images resembling him were published online, Kommersant reported at the time, calling Yanin a victim of a “smear campaign.”

Muse highlights include Lewis Lapham on history and weekend guides for New York and London.

To contact the reporters on this story: Olga Tanas in Moscow at; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at and Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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