Russia's culture ministry fires Bolshoi chief
FILE - In this March 19, 2013 file photo, Anatoly Iksanov , the general director of the Bolshoi Theater, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia. The Russian culture ministry has fired the director general of the famed Bolshoi Theater that has been mired in scandal since an acid attack on its artistic director. Minister Vladimir Medinsky said Tuesday, July 9, 2013, that Iksanov would be replaced by Vladimir Urin, head of another major ballet and opera theater. Medinsky said Iksanov would serve as his adviser.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
MOSCOW (AP) — The chief of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater was fired Tuesday after months of infighting following an acid attack on its artistic director that has stained the reputation of one of the legendary names in world ballet.
The departure of Anatoly Iksanov, the theater's director general, comes just a few weeks after the ouster of his rival, principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Both men have enjoyed the backing of senior government officials and Kremlin-connected tycoons, and their successive dismissals appear to reflect high-level intrigue and score-settling.
Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said only that the 61-year old Iksanov, who led the Bolshoi for nearly 13 years, was dismissed because of a "difficult situation at the theater."
He told a news conference that the head of Moscow's No. 2 ballet company, the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater, would succeed Iksanov.
The Bolshoi has been shrouded in scandal for years but a fierce conflict erupted in January after an assailant threw acid into the face of Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin. After numerous eye and facial surgeries, Filin has remained at a German clinic where doctors are trying to save his vision. The Bolshoi has named an acting artistic director.
In this photo made available by The Bolshoi Theater, newly appointed director general of the Bolshoi Theater Vladimir Urin, left, and former director general Anatoly Iksanov talk at a news conference at the theater in Moscow, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said Tuesday, July 9, 2013, that Anatoly Iksanov would be replaced by Vladimir Urin, head of another major ballet and opera theater. He said that a "difficult situation at the theater" was the reason for the dismissal. Iksanov, however, was offered to work as Medinsky's adviser in the ministry. (AP Photo/The Bolshoi Theater, Damir Yusupov)
Iksanov accused Tsiskaridze of creating an atmosphere of discord that set the scene for the attack. The 39-year-old dancer rejected the claims and argued that the theater has plunged into crime and violence under Iksanov's watch.
Iksanov managed to cling to his job for months despite fierce attacks from Tsiskaridze. He seemed even to have won the battle when Tsiskaridze was forced out after his contract expired on July 1.
But Alexei Pushkov, a powerful Kremlin-connected lawmaker, suggested that a high-level power struggle was under way when he tweeted that Tsiskaridze's dismissal was "the last straw" that led to Iksanov's ouster. He added that an ex-culture minister who has been Iksanov's patron is trying to prevent Tsiskaridze's return to the theater.
The decision to purge both men also appears to reflect the Kremlin's dismay over the infighting that has dented the nation's prestige.
In March, police arrested Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko on suspicion of involvement in the acid attack. Dmitrichenko admitted that he had agreed to an offer from an acquaintance to rough up Filin, but he insisted that the man had used acid on his own initiative.