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Dancer confesses to attack on ballet chief

MOSCOW -- A ballet star who has danced the roles of violent historical figures at the Bolshoi Theater has confessed to organizing the acid attack on the theater's ballet chief, Moscow police said yesterday.

A masked man threw a jar of sulfuric acid in the face of artistic director Sergei Filin, 42, as he returned home late on Jan. 17, severely burning his eyes. Filin, a former dancer, is undergoing treatment in Germany.

Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, confessed to masterminding the attack, and two other men confessed to being the perpetrator and the driver of the getaway car, police said. All three were to appear in court today, when prosecutors were to move for criminal charges to be filed against them.

"I organized that attack but not to the extent that it occurred," a bleary-eyed Dmitrichenko said in footage released by police, who said investigators believe that Dmitrichenko harbored "personal enmity" against Filin.

The attack threw light on a culture of deep intrigue and infighting at the famed theater. Bolshoi managers were speculating that the attack could have been in retaliation for Filin's selection of certain dancers over others for prized roles.

Dmitrichenko, who joined the Bolshoi in 2002, has not suffered for starring roles. Most recently, he danced the title role in "Ivan the Terrible," a ballet based on the life of the ruthless 16th-century czar who killed his son in a rage. His girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, is reported to have had a troubled relationship with Filin and felt she was unfairly denied major parts.

Filin's lawyer and wife, however, cautioned that the ballerina is unlikely to have been the only cause of the conflict. She said Filin had suspected Dmitrichenko's involvement, but is certain the circle goes beyond the three arrested Tuesday.

Police determined that the acid that the alleged attacker, Yuri Zarutsky, 35, splashed on Filin's face had been purchased at an auto shop.

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