Bolshoi ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko has pleaded not guilty to ordering an acid attack on company’s artistic director Sergei Filin.
Sulphuric acid was thrown at Sergei Filin outside his Moscow flat in January, damaging his eyesight.
Pavel Dmitrichenko entered his plea at the start of a trial, in a case that has revealed infighting at the Bolshoi.
Another defendant, Yuri Zarutsky, accused of throwing the acid, told the court in Moscow that he had attacked Sergei Filin and had acted alone.
At the hearing, Pavel Dmitrichenko denied that he had colluded with Yuri Zarutsky and a third defendant, Andrei Lipatov, who is accused of driving the car used to transport the alleged attacker.
Pavel Dmitrichenko had told the court during earlier hearings that he had met Yuri Zarutsky at his country house, and had said he disapproved of Sergei Filin’s management style.
But he denied organizing the attack on the Bolshoi’s artistic director.
Pavel Dmitrichenko has pleaded not guilty to ordering an acid attack on company’s artistic director Sergei Filin
“What happened to Filin is a result of Zarutsky’s savage conduct, not a result of my activities,” said Pavel Dmitrichenko.
“I had no hostile attitude towards Filin.”
He said Yuri Zarutsky, acting on his own motives, “committed this dangerous act, which we never discussed since I had no intent, and could not have had one to commit such an act in any form”.
Yuri Zarutsky – sitting at the opposite end of the defendants’ caged section to Pavel Dmitrichenko – told the trial judge that he threw the acid.
“I admit being guilty of attacking Filin,” he said, adding that Pavel Dmitrichenko and Andrei Lipatov were not involved.
In his testimony, Andrei Lipatov also denied any part in the attack.
Sergei Filin was not present in court during the hearing.
His lawyer said he was in Germany, receiving more treatment to save his sight and repair damage to his face.
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The Bolshoi has announced it will not renew the contract of veteran dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who has been in open conflict with the theatre since the acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin.
Nikolai Tsiskaridze, 39, who has been at the Bolshoi since 1992, is one of the theatre top talents.
He sparked conflict when he accused bosses of using the attack on Sergei Filin to conduct a witch hunt against him.
A spokeswoman said Nikolai Tsiskaridze, would leave at the end of the month.
“I can confirm that yesterday Tsiskaridze was given notice that his fixed-term contracts will not be renewed. His contract runs out June 30,” Katerina Novikova told Rossiya 24 on Saturday.
Katerina Novikova refused to give a reason for the decision.
In an NTV television interview on Sunday, Nikolai Tsiskaridze questioned the theatre’s right to let him go.
Dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who has been at the Bolshoi since 1992, is one of the theatre top talents
“To be honest, this is still not clear, because I’m on staff as a ballet artiste,” he said.
“When I was taken on, I joined the staff. I didn’t sign any paper to be released from this. It’s all very confusing.”
Earlier this year, the Bolshoi filed two reprimands against Nikolai Tsiskaridze for giving unauthorized interviews after the attack on Sergei Filin in January.
Under Russian law, multiple reprimands can be grounds for dismissal.
Nikolai Tsiskaridze appealed and a Moscow court annulled one of the reprimands.
In his outspoken interviews, Nikolai Tsiskaridze complained of corruption and called for the theatre’s entire management to be sacked and for himself to be put in charge.
It led to a tit-for-tat response from Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov, who suggested Nikolai Tsiskaridze might have played a role in inciting the attack on Sergei Filin, which left him with severe burns to his face and fighting to save his sight.
Nikolai Tsiskaridze has denied having anything to do with the attack and insists the Bolshoi has been trying to drive him out.
Soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two alleged accomplices have been charged in connection with the attack and are in jail awaiting trial.
In March, Pavel Dmitrichenko admitted to discussing the attack but denied ordering the use of acid.
They face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.