Just two weeks after the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre was left badly burned and nearly blind after an acid attack, one of the company’s top ballerinas has revealed she has moved to Canada in response to unspecified “threats”.
Principal dancer Svetlana Lunkina has left Russia claiming that threats had been made towards herself and her film producer husband.
Lunkina, who has worked with the Bolshoi since 1997, told Russian newspaper Izvestia: “I think we need to react to these threats. These people have no right to interfere in our private lives or my professional work.”
The 33-year-old dancer’s unspecified allegations suggest that the threats were made in connection with a film project involving her husband.
She had been due to perform in Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring later this year. "I was supposed to be doing a lot of interesting work, including several premieres," she said.
While believed to be unconnected the news of Lunkina’s departure from Russia comes at a dark time for the Bolshoi after its well-liked artistic director Sergei Filin, 42, was brutally attacked in Moscow on 17 January.
A masked man threw sulphuric acid in his face as Filin was returning home after a party. Surgeons worked through the night to save his eyesight after he suffered third degree burns and extensive damage to his eyes.
Filin alleges that before the attack he suffered threats, had the tyres of his car slashed and had his mobile phone and social media accounts hacked.
In an video interview with Russian television yesterday Filin said he suspected the assault was motivated by those seeking to “satisfy their ambitions”.
With bandages on his face and his eyes closed, Filin said: “I forgive all those people who were involved” adding he will do “everything possible so that I become once again the Sergei that I was before."
The devastating attack has shone a spotlight on the iconic Bolshoi theatre, located near to the Kremlin in central Moscow and formerly a symbol of Tsarist opulence, and the internal politics and rivalries it contains.
Today Anatoly Iksanov, general director the Bolshoi theatre, today spoke of the “unhealthy atmosphere” at the Bolshoic, claiming that “evil” has entered the company.
Speaking of principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze in an interview with The Telegraph Iksanov said: “[Tsiskaridze’s]speaks badly worldwide about his own home which made him a star, and he is doing it and he never stops and he will not be stopped.”
He continued: “Without any punishment or any reaction, he is free to do what he wants – it brings an unhealthy atmosphere inside the company. I am not ashamed to say it openly, because evil has now appeared here.”
Speaking to this newspaper last week former Bolshoi ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, who was famously fired in 2003 for being too fat, said the Bolshoi's leadership, and Iksanov, is to blame for the deteriorating situation.
"After I was fired, I was taking the theatre to court for unfair dismissal, because all the dancers had signed a document saying I was too heavy to lift, and they all came to me afterwards and apologised, saying they were forced into doing it," Volochkova said.
"People came to me with threats, even with knives, telling me to drop the case. Is that normal? Is this normal for a theatre?"