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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager

£30 - 38k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a digitally focussed Account Man...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP / MySQL / HTML / CSS

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this digital ...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Cashier

£16500 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity exists ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935