Bolshoi dancer Dmitrichenko 'confesses' to acid attack

Pavel Dmitrichenko was filmed by police saying he "masterminded the attack"

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A Bolshoi Ballet soloist and two other men have confessed to an acid attack on the company's artistic director, Moscow police say.

Dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko - the alleged mastermind of the attack - was detained on Tuesday with Yuri Zarutsky, who is suspected of carrying it out.

A man accused of driving a getaway vehicle is also being held.

Sergei Filin's eyesight was badly damaged when a masked attacker threw sulphuric acid in his face in January.

After a series of operations on his eyes, he has been moved to Germany, where doctors have expressed hope that months of further treatment may be able to restore good vision.

The 42-year-old also suffered facial disfigurement during the 17 January attack, outside his Moscow home.

Yuri Zarutsky (left) and Andrei Lipatov, after their arrest and alleged confession for the acid attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin Andrei Lipatov (right) is accused of driving Yuri Zarutsky (left) to the scene of the attack

It opened a window into bitter infighting and rivalries inside the Bolshoi theatre, shocking Russians, correspondents say.

'Signed confessions'

Mr Dmitrichenko's flat was searched by Moscow police on Tuesday before all three suspects were confirmed as being detained.

"At the current time all three have signed confessions and have been placed under arrest," Moscow police said on Wednesday.

"The necessary investigative work is being undertaken to establish all the circumstances of the crime."

Police released a brief video in which Mr Dmitrichenko was shown saying: "I masterminded this attack, but not to the extent that it eventually happened."

The driver, named as Andrei Lipatov, said: "I didn't actually see what happened. I just dropped [him] off, waited and then drove him off."

Yuri Zarutsky said he had been detained "for a crime" but refused to provide any details.

Confessions are common in Russia, though often the accused later complain of mistreatment, says the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow.

Sergei Filin - before and after

Sergei Filin before the attack (left) and leaving a Moscow hospital, 4 February (composite picture)
  • 1970 - born in Moscow
  • 1988 - began dancing at Bolshoi
  • Winner of Russian and international awards
  • Performs abroad, including at Covent Garden, London
  • 2008 - dancing career ends
  • March 2011 - takes over as Bolshoi artistic director

Mr Dmitrichenko, who has been with the troupe since 2002, is not one of the half-dozen very senior male dancers at the company, known as premiers, but he is a leading soloist one level down.

He has been performing the lead role in Sergei Prokofiev's Ivan The Terrible.

It is unclear whether Mr Zarutsky or the alleged driver have any connection to the Bolshoi.

Police have questioned several Bolshoi employees as potential witnesses.

The attack spurred a round of vicious allegations among some of the leading lights of the theatre.

Suspicions were cast on dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who was accused by Bolshoi manager Anatoly Iksanov of inspiring the attack, if not being behind it. Mr Tsiskaridze was questioned, but denied any involvement and has not been charged.

Police are treating the attack as a premeditated act of grievous bodily harm, motivated by Mr Filin's professional activities.

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