MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JANUARY 18, 2013) (REUTERS) - A director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet suffered severe burns when acid was thrown in his face, police and media said on Friday (January 18), in an attack the head of the prestigious theatre said was part of an intimidation campaign.
The troupe's artistic director, Sergei Filin, was attacked outside his apartment building late on Thursday, police and colleagues said. Interfax news agency cited a medical source who described his condition as stable.
Ekho Moskvy radio said Filin had suffered third-degree burns and that doctors believed it would take him at least six months to recover.
The theatre in the heart of Moscow is an enduring symbol of Russian culture and a big draw for both locals and foreign tourists, but has seen power struggles among both dancers and directors during its more than 200-year history.
Filin's colleagues were shocked by the news of attack and said it was hard to understand why would anyone try to endanger the life of such a great person and artistic director.
"We know that something absolutely beyond understanding has happened, something horrible. Sorry. It's hard to believe that such thing could happen in the art world. We're sort of going back to 90s. What does it have to do with the theatre? How could this have happened to such a wonderful Bolshoi ballet director, to a soloist, a brilliant soloist, to our colleague, to our friend. You know, it is a big tragedy for all of us, we're shocked, that is so inconceivable," Bolshoi soloist Anastasia Meskova said.
"The condition of Sergei Yurievich's (Filin) eyes is seriously worrying, especially of one of the eyes. In 30-40 minutes an operation on his eyes will start in order to stop the (dangerous) process, we have already agreed with a military burns clinic in Belgium, that after that they will accept him. We have also arranged a plane, so right after the operation he'll be transported to the Belgian clinic," Iksanov said.
He also added that he believed the attack was aimed at sowing discord at the Bolshoi, and that the culprit "should be sought among those for whom it was beneficial to compromise the theatre leadership."
He said Filin, 42, had told him of incidents this month in which his car tires were slashed and his email hacked into.
"You know, there were much worse periods of rampant criminality in the last years and decades than now. But a thing like that has never happened before. And so we, at theMinistry of Culture, consider this to be an attack on not only such a bright cultural figure, but also on the whole Bolshoi theatre and the Russian culture," Russian Deputy Culture Minister Andrei Busygin said during a news conference at the Bolshoi.
"The whole world is shocked because it's not only grief for us, for Sergei and his family, but this (case) has received an enormous international public response. The reputation of our country is actually at risk, so we do hope all the possible authorities will investigate the case and the case will be solved, because it's a question of the global reputation of our country and of the image of Russia," Bolshoi spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova said.
The Bolshoi, which has ballet and opera troupes, reopened last February after a six-year renovation to its colonnaded landmark building near the Kremlin and across the street from a bust of the father of Communism, Karl Marx.
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