Bad boy of the Bolshoi, Pavel Dmitrichenko, admits he was behind acid attack on director Sergei Filin

Lead dancer famed for playing villains confesses to police as rumours swirl over ballerina

Moscow

His best roles on the Bolshoi stage have been villains; at a recent premiere he played Ivan the Terrible, hunched and gurning as the brutal but psychologically tortured Tsar. Even so, there was shock when dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko admitted to masterminding the real-life episode of villainy that has thrown Russia’s ballet world into chaos.

The 28-year-old soloist, who has danced at Russia’s most famous theatre for over a decade, was arrested on Tuesday evening and today confessed that he had planned the attack on 42-year-old Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi’s artistic director. No motive for the attack has been made public but there is speculation that Mr Dmitrichenko was engaged in a dispute with Mr Filin over the fate of his girlfriend, Anzhelika Vorontsova, also a soloist at the Bolshoi. 

Police released brief footage of Mr Dmitrichenko confessing to the crime. Looking tired and dishevelled, the dancer said that he did organise the attack, though “not in the way that it turned out”. He refused to give his reasons for the assault, but said he had stated them in his written confession. 

“We are very grateful to the investigators for doing such a thorough job and we hope that everyone involved in this and other crimes involving the theatre will be caught,” said Katerina Novikova, the theatre’s spokesperson. She refused to comment on any other aspects of the arrest, or on whether there was evidence of a dispute between Mr Filin and Mr Dmitrichenko.

In 2011, Mr Dmitrichenko told a Russian website that he had been an unruly student at ballet school and even thrown firecrackers at teachers. “I didn’t get serious until I was 16,” he said.

Suspicions had been cast on veteran premier dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who was accused by Bolshoi manager Anatoly Iksanov of inspiring the attack, if not being behind it. Mr Tsiskaridze was questioned, but denied any involvement and has not been charged. He has clashed publicly with the Bolshoi’s management and made a public challenge to Mr Iksanov, launching a petition to take his place, which failed.

Sources at the Bolshoi said that Mr Tsiskaridze and Mr Dmitrichenko were close, and that Ms Vorontsova was the premier’s favourite student. In a television interview prior to the acid attack, Mr Tsiskaridze claimed that the theatre management and Mr Filin had told Ms Vorontsova that she could only dance the leading role in Swan Lake if she agreed to stop taking lessons from him, which she refused to do.  Ms Vorontsova has not commented on the scandal so far, and last night was due to dance in a performance of Jewels, a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, on the main stage of the Bolshoi.

Mr Filin was attacked with sulphuric acid outside his Moscow apartment in mid-January, and is undergoing treatment in a German hospital for his eyesight and facial burns. He said all along that he believed the attack was connected to his work at the theatre.

Police were put on to Mr Dmitrichenko as a possible lead after analysing mobile phone records. They have arrested two other men over the attack, including the alleged assailant, Yury Zarutsky, and a man accused of driving a getaway vehicle, 31-year-old Dmitry Lipatov.

Both have no previous connection to the theatre, according to police and both have confessed, though Mr Lipatov says that he was not aware of the kind of crime that would be carried out.

All three remain in custody and will appear in court tomorrow for a bail hearing. The theatre has said it will substitute other soloists for performances where Mr Dmitrichenko is due to dance, the first of which is on 16 March, when the dancer was down to dance in Sleeping Beauty.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?