Acid attack made life of Bolshoi ballet chief a misery: family

Maria Tsvetkova
Filin, the artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet, addresses the court in Moscow
Sergei Filin, the artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet, addresses the court in Moscow, November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

By Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The acid attack that nearly blinded the artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet "destroyed everything" in his life and brought misery on him and his family, a relative told a court on Thursday.

Three men, including solo dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, are on trial for the January 17 attack on 43-year-old Sergei Filin that damaged the reputation of one of Russia's leading cultural institutions, revealing bitter rivalries behind the scenes.

They face up to 12 years in jail if convicted of plotting and staging the attack, which left Filin writhing in agony in the snow and has forced him to have more than 20 operations to try to save his sight and repair damage to his face.

"They destroyed everything for him. Our lives have been filled with suffering, endless travels and illnesses with no end," Filin's father-in-law, Alexander Prorvich, told the Moscow court in an emotional statement.

Filin, whose role at the Bolshoi gave him power to make or break careers and whose work was criticized by some of his colleagues, told the trial on Wednesday that he had no forgiveness to offer to his assailants.

Filin can still barely see anything through his right eye and demanded 3.5 million roubles ($108,000) in damages. Prorvich said Filin, who now wears dark glasses, would face more operations and need treatment for the rest of his life.

"It is very difficult for him .. especially after the first operation when he thought he would see," Prorvich said. "When they removed the bandages and he saw nothing, he was in a very bad state."

He said Filin's sister had offered cells from her cornea for a transplant.

In the same court on Wednesday, Filin came face-to-face with Dmitrichenko, who has accused his former boss of favoritism, unfair distribution of money among staff and having love affairs with ballerinas.

Filin dismissed the accusations as "pure lies" made up of envy and to compromise him. He said he loved his wife, Maria Prorvich, mother of two of his three children and also a dancer at the Bolshoi.

On January17, she ran downstairs from their flat in a residential block in Moscow after a guard called her immediately after finding Filin.

"I came and saw Sergei in a terrible state... He was very bad. He was suffering horrible pain," she told the court. ($1 = 32.4075 Russian roubles)

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage; editing by Ralph Boulton)