Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bolshoi star sentenced to six years for organizing acid attack

A Moscow court on Tuesday found a star ballet dancer at the Bolshoi Theater guilty of organizing an acid attack on his troupe’s artistic director and sentenced him to six years in prison, bringing a highly charged trial to a close. The judge at Meshchansky Court ruled that Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two co-defendants were guilty of causing grievous bodily harm. Dmitrichenko was handed down a six-year sentence, while Yury Zarutsky, the accused attacker, received a 10-year sentence. Andrei Lipatov, the driver, received a sentence of four years. The attack in January left Sergei Filin with third-degree burns to his face and eyes. The court also ordered the defendants to pay Filin 3.5 million rubles ($105,000) in compensation for medical costs and moral damage. Filin returned to Moscow last September after six months of treatment in a German hospital. He has undergone more than 20 eye surgeries, and German doctors said that his eyesight had improved significantly. The judge said in the verdict that Dmitrichenko had organized the attack because he was disgruntled at the way Filin was conducting his duties. Dmitrichenko has claimed he only wanted to have Filin beaten up, but the judge dismissed the testimony as an attempt to avoid criminal responsibility. The court ruled that other defendants in the trial only did the jobs that had been assigned to them by Dmitrichenko. Dmitrichenko and Lipatov pleaded not guilty, while Zarutsky claimed he planned and carried out the attack on his own. The Bolshoi slipped into chronic decay amid the economic turmoil of the 1990s that succeeded the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, the government has invested heavily in restoring the theater’s interior, and its annual budget has now reached about $120 million. The rush of cash has ensured the return of opulent productions, but is widely seen as having fueled vicious infighting at the Bolshoi. A former leading ballet dancer at the Bolshoi Theater earlier accused Filin of doling out favors to those close to him. Speaking during his testimony at Dmitrichenko’s trial last week, Nikolai Tsiskaridze criticized what he described as the poor management of the Bolshoi.

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