Russia seeks 9-year sentence for Bolshoi dancer over acid attack

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian prosecutors sought on Friday a nine-year jail sentence for Bolshoi ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko over his alleged mastermind role in an acid attack that nearly blinded the troupe's artistic director.

The prosecution also asked the court to sentence Dmitrichenko's suspected associate Yury Zarutsky to 10 years for flinging the sulphuric acid in the face of Mr Sergei Filin on January 17, a crime that shocked Russia and scandalised the historic theatre.

The trial of Dmitrichenko, Zarutsky and a third associate named Andrei Lipatov - suspected of driving the attacker to Filin's home - has captivated the ballet world and revealed deep frictions within the legendary theatre.

"The accused are all guilty and deserve no leniency," RIA Novosti quoted Mr Filin's lawyer Tatyana Stukalova as telling the court.

Mr Filin, 43, and himself a former Bolshoi star who came back as artistic director after joining a different Moscow theatre, had said in highly-emotional court testimony that he would never forgive the culprits for what happened.

Dmitrichenko, who was known for dancing dark characters such as Ivan the Terrible, is said to have been frustrated by the lack of promotion under Mr Filin for himself and his then-girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova.

Dmitrichenko hs pleaded not guilty, saying that he had never intended for acid to be used or to cause such extensive harm, merely asking Zarutsky, a former convict acquaintance, to "rough up" Mr Filin in order to send him a message.

The sensational case has led to the ouster of Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov and dismissal of dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a renowned soloist who supported Dmitrichenko and this week accused Mr Filin of favouritism and creating an unhealthy atmosphere in the troupe.

The three suspects have been in pre-trial detention since March.

Mr Filin has undergone more than 20 surgeries on his eyes in Germany, but has said that his eyesight is nearly lost.

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