Dancer accused in Bolshoi attack defends actions

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Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, center, listens in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 7, 2013. The star dancer accused of masterminding the attack on the Bolshoi ballet chief acknowledged Thursday that he gave the go-ahead for the attack, but said he did not order anyone to throw acid on the artistic director’s face.Dmitrichenko told a Moscow court that he had complained about ballet chief Sergei Filin to an acquaintance, who offered to “beat him up.” (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW— The star dancer accused of masterminding the attack on the Bolshoi ballet chief acknowledged Thursday that he gave the go-ahead for the attack, but told a Moscow court that he did not order anyone to throw acid on the artistic director’s face.

The judge, however, refused to release Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko on bail and ordered him held until at least April 18.

Ballet chief Sergei Filin’s face and eyes suffered severe burns in the Jan. 17 attack, which exposed a culture of deep intrigue and infighting at the famed theater.

Dmitrichenko said he had complained about the ballet chief to an acquaintance, who offered to “beat him up.”

“It’s not true that I ordered him to throw acid at Filin,” the 29-year-old dancer told the court, speaking from a cage. He said he had never intended for the attack to cause such bodily harm.

Moscow police said Thursday that Dmitrichenko had paid 50,000 rubles (about $1,600) to the man, Yuri Zarutsky, accused of throwing the jar of acid in the ballet chief’s face as he returned home late at night. The third defendant drove the getaway car, but said in video provided by police that he did not know the purpose of his mission.

The court was to decide later Thursday whether the two co-defendants also should remain in custody.

Dmitrichenko said he was angered by Filin’s decisions on how money was allocated to dancers at the theater:

“I told Yuri Zarutsky about the policies of the Bolshoi Theater, about the bad things going on, the corruption. When he said: ‘OK, let me beat him up, hit him upside the head,’ I agreed, but that is all that I admit to doing,” he said in court.

Police said they had determined that Zarutsky had purchased acid at an auto shop and believe he then heated it to make it more concentrated.

State television has suggested that the dancer was motivated by Filin’s refusal to cast his young girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, in a starring role.

Filin’s lawyer and wife, however, both cautioned against focusing too much attention on the ballerina and said the circle of people involved in the attack was wider than the three men detained this week.

“We believe that investigators still have a lot of work to do to establish all of the facts,” Filin’s lawyer Tatyana Stukalova said in an interview on Rossiya state television.

The Bolshoi’s general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has accused veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inspiring the attack. Tsiskaridze, a long-time critic of the theater’s management, has denied the allegation.

Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, is coached by Tsiskaridze.

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