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Attacked Bolshoi ballet chief ‘regaining sight’
January 22, 2013
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MOSCOW: Russian doctors said on Monday that the Bolshoi ballet’s artistic director would regain sight in at least one eye following a brutal acid attack his coworkers blamed on infighting at the famed theatre.

But Sergei Filin’s doctors added that a string of operations was required before they could determine whether one of Russia’s greatest recent performers could return to what may be the most influential job in dance.

“The trend is generally positive,” the Moscow health service’s top eyesight specialist Larisa Mashetova said in televised remarks.

“He is regaining sight faster in one eye, but I think that we are going to even things out for both,” said Mashetova.

“Still, the recovery process will take a lot of time.” The 42-year-old Filin — appointed artistic director in 2011 after an acclaimed stage career — suffered third-degree burns to his face late on Thursday when a masked man cornered him near his central Moscow house.

Preliminary findings released Sunday showed that the assailant used sulphuric acid. Closed circuit footage showed a figure running away through an empty outdoor parking lot in the dark.

Several of the ballet’s greatest dancers have since reported infighting at the Bolshoi — founded in 1776 — and voiced fears the attack may be linked to Filin’s decision to award top roles to his favourite dancers.

They said Filin himself had on occasion mentioned feeling like he was in a constant fight for survival with his staff.

The weeks leading up to the attack appeared to be filled with tumult and almost open verbal warfare between some members of Russia’s artistic elite.

Filin reported the tyres of his car being slashed in the week preceding Thursday acid attack.

One of his social media accounts was also hacked and its contents — including some private exchanges of an explicit nature — published online in what friends interpreted as a broader intimidation campaign.

But the assault itself appeared to leave a deep scar on dancers who have since expressed nothing but respect for their boss.

“This is just theatre,” Bolshoi’s choreographer Svetlana Adyrkhayeva was quoted by Russian media as saying over the weekend.

“Normal people do not behave in this manner.” Moscow police have so far made no arrests while spending the weekend interviewing Bolshoi dancers and directors as part of their investigation.

Agence France-Presse

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