Caged ballet star Pavel Dmitrichenko calls acid attack on Bolshoi chief Sergei Filin 'a mistake'

Dancer tells court that he only intended his boss to be 'roughed up' after dispute about funding

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The Independent Online

The Bolshoi ballet star Pavel Dmitrichenko claimed from inside a metal cage in a Moscow court that the acid attack on the company's artistic director was “a mistake”.

Mr Dmitrichenko is due to stand trial for ordering the assault which almost blinded Sergei Filin in January. The court denied him bail.

A soloist at the Bolshoi known for dancing the roles of villains, Mr Dmitrichenko admitted to ordering an attack on Mr Filin, but said he had only expected the ballet director to be roughed up, and had not planned the use of acid. When asked if he wanted to apologise to Mr Filin, the dancer asked defiantly: “For what?”

Mr Dmitrichenko was arrested on Tuesday along with two other men who are not believed to have had any connection to the theatre. Yuri Zarutsky is accused of buying acid from a car shop, boiling it to make it more concentrated, and carrying out the attack, while Andrei Lipatov drove the assailant to the place of the crime. Both have admitted taking part in the attack, though Mr Lipatov says that he did not know the nature of the crime he was involved in. “I told Yuri Zarutsky about the policies of the Bolshoi Theatre, about the bad things going on, the corruption,” Mr Dmitrichenko said. “He said: 'OK, let me beat him up, knock him around a bit,' and I agreed, but that is all that I admit to doing.”

He admitted he had told Mr Zarutsky what time Mr Filin would be leaving the theatre, but said he was shocked when he heard about the acid attack. Police say Mr Dmitrichenko paid 50,000 roubles (£1,070) to Mr Zarutsky to carry out the attack, having been introduced to the convicted petty criminal as “someone who could solve any problem”.

Mr Dmitrichenko said he had been angered at Mr Filin's allocation of funds and salaries at the theatre, but did not comment on widespread speculation that the attack was prompted by Mr Filin's refusal to let his girlfriend, and fellow Bolshoi soloist, dance the lead role in Swan Lake. Anzhelina Vorontsova, who danced in a production of George Balanchine's Jewels on Wednesday night, has not commented on the case.

Those close to Mr Filin have hinted that others may have been involved.

The judge ordered Mr Dmitrichenko and the other two defendants to be held in custody until at least 18 April, when the investigation will be completed and a trial date set.