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Bolshoi Ballerina Afraid To Return To Russia

posted 2 Feb 2013, 10:02 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 2 Feb 2013, 10:03 ]

In an interview in Canada with the CBC, a principal dancer with Russia's Bolshoi ballerina says she fears for her life and cannot return to Russia.

 TORONTOCANADA (FEBRUARY 1, 2013) (CBC) - A scandal involving allegations of blackmail and threats against a top ballerina at the Bolshoi is unfolding just days after the artistic director of ballet at Russia's most prestigious theatre was attacked, a Russian newspaper reported this week.

Dancer Svetlana Lunkina has extended a leave of absence because she is afraid to return home from Canada as a result of threats targeting her and her film producer husband, Russian daily Izvestia reported in stories it ran on Monday (January 28) and Tuesday (January 29).

In an interview in Toronto with the Canadian television network CBC, Lunkina, who spoke through a translator, said she "cannot go back" to Russia.

"I cannot go back at this time because there were actual threats and there were letters, blackmailing letters in nature, that threatened my entire family," the translator said.

When asked if she feared for her life, Lunkina responded in Russian, "Da, da," meaning "Yes."

The alleged threats stem not from Lunkina's career at the Bolshoi, now on hold for several months at least, but from a dispute between her husband and his former partner in a project for a film about late Russian ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya.

The reports come after an unknown assailant splashed acid in the face of Bolshoi Balletartistic director Sergei Filin on Jan. 17 - an attack he has said followed repeated threats and may have been motivated by rivalry or resentment. .

Lunkina's husband, Vladislav Moskalyov, was sued for $3.7 million by a foundation linked to his former partner in the film, prominent Russian comic Vladimir Vinokur, shortly after Moskalyov left the film project, Izvestia reported.

It said letters had been sent to theatres alleging Moskalyov had laundered some of the money with help from Lunkina.

Russian police have opened an investigation based on allegations of theft from Vinokur's foundation, but have not named any suspects, Izvestia reported.

Vinokur could not be reached for comment. Izvestia quoted him as saying that "nobody threatened" the 33-year-old Lunkina but that she was "simply the wife of a man who has committed a crime and is hiding in Canada."