Bolshoi Ballet Boss Describes Acid Attack

The Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director has described the horrific acid attack which left him with third-degree burns and could leave him blind.

Sergei Filin, 43, was attacked by a masked man who threw acid into his face as he got out of his car outside his home in Moscow.

Filin, who is currently being treated at a burns unit in the Russian capital, secured the highly coveted artistic director position in March 2011 after dancing at the Bolshoi for 18 years.

But in recent weeks, he has been plagued with anonymous threats, which colleagues have said may be due to jealousy from those who lost out on the position.

Heavily bandaged and speaking from his hospital bed, Filin told the Russian Ren TV station how he feared for his life during the attack.

He said: "I got scared, to be honest, I thought he would shoot me. I understood the (courtyard) door didn't open after I dialled the code and I turned away to run but he was faster and got ahead - I had a jacket hood on - and he splashed something into my face from below.

"He turned to me, he had his face covered up to his eyes like this, it was a scarf or some bandage, like a mask, a hood and something like a mask, only eyes uncovered."

He added: "Since December 31, I had these attacks, there were calls on my mobiles one after another, and the phones were blocked for any normal contacts.

"So there were continuous calls, it was obviously happening on someone's request, so it served like a warning." 

The theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov told Russian TV's Channel One that Filin's personal email account had also been hacked and personal messages were published in an attempt to discredit him.

An insulting Facebook page was also created in the former dancer's name and his tyres were slashed.

Katerina Novikova, the theatre's press secretary, told Channel One: "Sergei was constantly receiving threats after he took up this post and his predecessors were under attack before him."

Prior to the attack, Filin was offered a bodyguard by a relative, however his assistant said he turned it down assuming that the threats would not turn violent.

But Filin grew more concerned and on the day of the attack he told Iksanov: "I have a feeling that I am on the front line."

A theatre official has said Filin is likely to be sent overseas for treatment and his recovery may take up to six months.

Since the Bolshoi Theatre's long-standing artistic director Yuri Grigorovich left in 1995 after 30 years, filling the position has proven difficult.

Five artistic directors have been appointed in the last 15 years, of which, one has been fired, two have not had their contracts renewed and one is rumoured to have been pressurised into resigning.

Alexei Ratmansky, the Bolshoi's artistic director from 2004 until 2008, posted on his Facebook page: "The Bolshoi has many ills.

"It's a disgusting cesspool, of those developing friendships with the artists, the speculators and scalpers, the half-crazy fans, ready to bite the throats of the rivals of their favourites, the cynical hackers, the lies in the press and the scandalous interviews of staff."