MOSCOW -- Burning the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director's face with acid was not part of the plan, the top dancer arrested for allegedly masterminding the attack told a Russian court Thursday.
Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, admitted to organizing the attack but said that Yuri Zarutski, the man he allegedly paid about $1,600 to attack Sergei Filin was only supposed to hit him. Dousing Filin’s face in sulfuric acid, which caused severe burns and left him partially blind, was Zarutski’s idea, Dmitrichenko told the court.
“He always offered, 'Let me go there and solve this question, let me hit him over the head,' I agreed. But after I heard what happened to him, I was in shock,” an exhausted-looking Dmitrichenko said from a cage in a Moscow courtroom during his arraignment.
Dmitrichenko said he met Zarutski in Stupino, a provincial town in the Moscow region where summer cottages used by Bolshoi Ballet personnel are located. The dancer, whose roles included the Evil Genius in "Swan Lake" and Russia’s brutal ruler Ivan the Terrible in recent ballet "Ivan Grozny," regularly lent the unemployed Zarutski small sums of money. In exchange Zarutski offered to “solve any problems,” Dmitrichenko said.
Zarutski, 35, and his lawyer declined to comment on whether the acid was Zarutski's idea.
Dmitrichenko did not cite specific reasons for wanting to attack Filin, but mentioned corruption at the theater. Russian media reports and a source at the theater suggested Filin irked the dancer by not giving Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova the roles of Odette and Odile in "Swan Lake."
However, several Bolshoi performers who attended Thursday’s arraignment said they did not believe that Dmitrichenko and Vorontsova had anything to do with the attack. They did not find the results of the investigation convincing, they said, and believe that Dmitrichenko was forced into confessing.
“We all saw how he looked, his eyes,” said Roman Denisov, a Bolshoi Theater orchestra musician, referring to Dmitrichenko’s pale face and the dark circles under his eyes. “It’s terrifying to think of what he has lived through.”
A masked assailant threw concentrated sulfuric acid at Filin, 42, on the night of Jan. 17 near his Moscow apartment building. Dmitrichenko, Zarutski and driver Andrei Lipatov were detained Tuesday and, authorities say, confessed Wednesday.
Police said Dmitrichenko hired Zarutski, who purchased the acid in a Moscow region auto-parts store, to attack Filin. Zarutski asked Lipatov, who claims to have had no knowledge of the assault, to drive him to and from the crime scene.
All three suspects were denied bail and were ordered held until at least April 18 as the investigation continues.