Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin 'blinded' by acid attack that left him with chemical burns

The former ballet star had acid thrown in his face by a man late last night - it is thought the attack is linked to his position

Moscow

The artistic director of Russia’s most famous ballet troupe is in hospital with severe chemical burns after an unknown assailant threw acid in his face outside his central Moscow home.

The attack on Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi, is shocking even by the standards of the theatre, where infighting and backstabbing among the troupe have been rife ever since the Soviet period.

Mr Filin is in a Moscow hospital with burns to his face and eyes. Doctors have been working through the night to try and preserve his sight but Russian website Life News is reporting that he has been blinded.

The Bolshoi said that the artist could be flown abroad for treatment. The theatre’s General Director, Anatoly Iksanov, said yesterday that Mr Filin had been receiving threats for months, as well as having his emails hacked and the tyres on his car slashed. “He told me he felt like he was on the front line here,” said Mr Iksanov. “I told him that we all feel the same, working in the theatre is hard. We knew about the threats, but nobody could have imagined that they would end so tragically.”

Russia’s premier opera and ballet theatre has a troubled history, with the intrigue, rivalries and backstabbing behind the scenes a match for any of the tangled plots that adorn its stage. During the Soviet era, artists were targeted by Joseph Stalin’s purges, and later those dancers who were considered “politically unreliable” were not allowed to travel on coveted foreign tours, leading to squabbling and enmities among the soloists.

The rivalries have continued on into the post-Soviet era, with the infighting particularly acrimonious on the theatre’s ballet side. The Bolshoi’s leading male dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, is a virtual outcast from the theatre, claiming that he has been penalised for his outspoken views. He has launched a campaign to try to remove Mr Iksanov as director of the theatre, and frequently complains about the theatre’s management in the media. He criticised the quality of the reconstruction of the theatre, which underwent a massive refurbishment that cost hundreds of millions of pounds and was finally completed in 2011. He said it looked like a Turkish hotel and was permeated with design flaws that made rehearsals and performances difficult, including windowless make-up rooms and bumps in the stage.

Anastasia Volochkova, who was fired from the Bolshoi in 2003 for being overweight, has also claimed that the theatre hires out its female dancers as escorts to Russian oligarchs at parties, allegations that the theatre has always strongly denied.

The 42-year-old Mr Filin, who was previously a dancer at the theatre, took over as artistic director in 2011. At the time, another leading dancer, Gennady Yanin, was forced to resign after gay pornographic photographs in which he allegedly featured were uploaded anonymously to a website.

Despite the theatre’s chequered history, the Russian ballet world was in shock at the brutality of the attack on Mr Filin. “Everyone knows that there will always be battles at the Bolshoi, it goes with the territory and it’s all part of being the best theatre in the country,” said one former ballerina who asked to remain anonymous. “But for something like this to happen is just disgusting. I can’t believe it.”

Last night friends of Mr Filin said that he had a good idea of who could be behind the attack but would not say anything publicly so as not to affect the investigation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment