Dancer accused in Bolshoi acid attack defends actions, gets remand

MOSCOW (AP) - A Moscow district court remanded leading Bolshoi Theatre dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko in custody until April 18 over the acid attack on the ballet troupe’s artistic director Sergei Filin.

The judge at the Tagansky district court in Moscow ruled that Dmitrichenko had to stay in custody until the end of the initial investigation period, rejecting a petition by the defence for him to be released on bail.

The star dancer accused of masterminding the attack on the Bolshoi ballet chief acknowledged Thursday that he gave the go-ahead for the attack, but said he did not order anyone to throw acid on the artistic director's face.

Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko told a Moscow court that he had complained about ballet chief Sergei Filin to an acquaintance, who offered to "beat him up".

"It's not true that I ordered him to throw acid at Filin," Dmitrichenko told the court, which was to decide whether he and his two co-defendants will remain in custody.

Mr Filin's face and eyes suffered severe burns in the Jan. 17 attack, which exposed a culture of deep intrigue and infighting at the famed theater.

Dmitrichenko, 29, said he did not intend for the attack to cause such bodily harm.

His defense lawyer asked the court to free his client on bail, noting that he had virtually acknowledged his guilt.

Moscow police said Thursday that Dmitrichenko had paid 50,000 rubles (S$1700) to the man, Yuri Zarutsky, accused of throwing the jar of acid in the ballet chief's face as he returned home late at night. The third defendant drove the getaway car, but said in video provided by police that he did not know the purpose of his mission.

Dmitrichenko said he was angered by Mr Filin's decisions on how money was allocated to dancers at the theater: "I told Yuri Zarutsky about the policies of the Bolshoi Theater, about the bad things going on, the corruption. When he said: 'OK, let me beat him up, hit him upside the head,' I agreed, but that is all that I admit to doing," he said in court.

Police said they had determined that Zarutsky had purchased acid at an auto shop and believe he then heated it to make it more concentrated.

State television has suggested that the dancer was motivated by Mr Filin's refusal to cast his young girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, in a starring role.

Mr Filin's lawyer and wife, however, both cautioned against focusing too much attention on the ballerina and said the circle of people involved in the attack was wider than the three men arrested this week.

"We believe that investigators still have a lot of work to do to establish all of the facts," Filin's lawyer Tatyana Stukalova said in an interview on Rossiya state television.

The Bolshoi's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has accused veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inspiring the attack. Tsiskaridze, a long-time critic of the theater's management, has denied the allegation.

Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, is coached by Tsiskaridze.