Bolshoi director Sergei Filin 'knows' attacker

Sergei Filin in photo taken on 7 April 2011 at the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow Sergei Filin believes his attackers may have been jealous of his successes at the Bolshoi Ballet, a place notorious for its infighting and rivals

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The Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director says he is "absolutely certain" he knows who is behind an acid attack that left him badly injured last month.

Sergei Filin told the BBC he would not name names until investigators are ready to make an announcement.

He said he was sure the aim of the attack was to remove him as artistic director and destroy the prestigious Moscow ballet company's reputation.

Mr Filin is due to fly to Germany next week to continue his treatment.

His eyes were badly damaged in the 17 January attack in Moscow, and he said he had already undergone five operations and was under constant monitoring.

The 42-year-old said he knew that some people had disliked the way he was taking the ballet company, which is known for its infighting and rivalries, but believed he had no "obvious enemies".

He also said he wished he had taken more seriously the months of threats and harassment he had suffered, accepting now that it was "leading up to the tragedy to come".

The full interview with the BBC's Steve Rosenberg, conducted on Saturday:

How's the treatment going?

The treatment's going well. I'm pleased. But the most important thing is whether the doctors are satisfied. Overall, it's going ok. I feel well. My body is full of strength and energy. The priority now is my eyesight. Because the biggest and most serious problem remains my eyes.

How is your eyesight?

I can't say. I've had four operations already and today I had another small operation which wasn't planned. My eyes are being monitored constantly. One eye was more damaged than the other. The left eye was damaged a little less, the right eye was damaged more. So there's a lot of work going on to treat them. It wouldn't be right for me to comment on my condition, I think it's up to the doctors to do that. But I can say this. Based on what I feel, when the doctors give me the opportunity to sort of open my eyes and try to see something, I think that there's a chance that I will be able to see my children again. I really want to believe that.

Listen to Sergei Filin tell the BBC's Steve Rosenberg about his condition, his family, and his theory on his attacker

Had you been threatened before?

I've said many times that what happened was connected solely with my work in the Bolshoi Theatre. Of course, I had received threats. I think I had brushed them aside too easily. I ignored the advice of my friends to take on a driver and a bodyguard. Because the intimidation I was encountering - the mass attacks on my mobile phones, that kept ringing constantly, the hacking of my email accounts, my messages were totally rewritten in a negative way and posted on Facebook - I see now that all of this was leading up to the tragedy to come. I think that if I'd taken this more seriously and seen it as a sign of an attack, if I'd at least taken on a driver, then this never would have happened.

Were there concrete threats, like "If you don't do this, we'll do that…"?

No, no-one threatened me face-to-face.

What do you think the aim of the attack was?

I think there was a double aim. What's clear here is the psychosis of one or more people who were in a hurry to cause me a lot of pain to fulfil their own personal ambitions. That's the first thing. The second aim was to remove me as the Bolshoi's artistic director for a long period, and to damage the reputation of the Bolshoi Ballet. Because I think we've done a lot, and we're doing a lot, we're moving in the right direction there. And someone really doesn't like what I've been doing there, perhaps they don't like the fact I've been successful.

Why do you think someone wanted to get rid of you from the Bolshoi? Did you make enemies?

When I get on with life and work, I don't have time to think about whether I have enemies. I don't have any obvious enemies. I've had an interesting and a sparkling career. And throughout that there was never a moment when I feared going outside, or when I was looking over my shoulder. I'm a very honest person. I have my opinions on things, I take tough decisions. I was a manager, the manager of a very serious collective, the Bolshoi Ballet. Perhaps there are people who didn't like that, or who thought I shouldn't be, or who consider themselves hard done by. But I can't call them my enemies. Why did they want to get rid of me? I'd like to wait before answering that. I think the investigators will provide the answer to that.

I don't expect you to name any names, but do you have an idea who could have done this?

Yes, I not only have a suspicion about who did this, but I'm absolutely certain I know who did this. But I will only speak about this when investigators are ready to announce this.

What measures have you taken to protect yourself and your family in the future?

I haven't had time for this, because in hospital, every day, I have had to undergo dozens of medical procedures, several operations, first on the skin of my face, then my eyes. Every day, eyes, skin, eyes, face. As for my family's safety, the whole family is now being guarded.

What are your plans now? Will you be going to Germany for further medical treatment?

Yes. If I'll be stable today and tomorrow, without serious problems, then on Monday I will fly to Germany for further treatment.

What message would you send to the people who organised this attack?

You know, I invited a priest to the hospital to talk about this very subject. He took my confession. I told him that I forgive everyone connected to this terrifying crime. And I sincerely want them to understand that I have forgiven them. Because the Lord will judge them.

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