6 Mar 2013

Bolshoi dancer admits acid attack, police say

10:34 pm on 6 March 2013

A Bolshoi Ballet soloist and two other men have confessed to an acid attack on the company's artistic director, Moscow police say.

Dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko - the alleged mastermind of the attack - was detained on Tuesday with Yuri Zarutsky, suspected of carrying it out. A man accused of driving a getaway vehicle is also being held.

Sergei Filin's eyesight was badly damaged when a masked attacker threw sulphuric acid in his face outside his Moscow apartment as he returned home late on 17 January this year.

After a series of operations on his eyes, he has been moved to Germany, where doctors have expressed hope that months of further treatment may be able to restore good vision, the BBC reports. The 42-year-old also suffered facial disfigurement during the attack.

Pavel Dmitrichenko's flat was searched by police on Tuesday before all three suspects were confirmed as being detained. They have been held overnight.

Confessions are common in Russia, though often the accused later complain of mistreatment, the BBC reports.

Mr Dmitrichenko, who has been with the troupe since 2002, has been performing the lead role in Sergei Prokofiev's Ivan The Terrible.

Life News, a Russian website with close ties to the police, said Mr Zarutsky and the driver were found by tracking cell phone calls made from the crime scene.

Police have questioned several Bolshoi employees as potential witnesses. The BBC reports they are treating the attack as a premeditated act of grievous bodily harm, motivated by Sergei Filin's professional activities.