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Bolshoi Ballet director attacked with acid

MOSCOW -- A masked attacker threw acid in the face of the artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, endangering his eyesight, in what colleagues said yesterday was the culmination of a two-week campaign of intimidation.

Sergei Filin, a former leading dancer at the Bolshoi who has been in the high-pressure job at the heart of Russian culture for nearly two years, was attacked outside his Moscow apartment building as he returned home Thursday night.

Such is the prestige of Filin's post in Russia, and its power inside the theater, that current and former colleagues suggested the motive could have been envy, rivalry or even competition for roles.

Filin, his face covered in bandages with holes for the mouth and eyes, sounded relieved to have survived the attack. "I was scared. I thought he was going to shoot me, honestly . . . and I turned to run but he chased me down," Filin told Russia's REN TV.

The theater's director, Anatoly Iksanov, had no doubt the attack was aimed at sowing discord in an institution that has rarely been at peace in a history stretching back to the era of Catherine the Great. Filin, 42, had reported having his car tires slashed and his emails hacked in recent weeks.

Russian media said Filin had suffered third-degree burns and that doctors believed it would take him at least six months to recover. Interfax news agency quoted the theater's press office as saying late Friday that he had undergone successful surgery and that a complete loss of eyesight was not a magnet for both locals and foreign tourists, and has seen power struggles among both dancers and directors throughout its more than 200 years of history.


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