News / Europe

Russian Prosecutors Seek 9 Years for Acid Attack Dancer

Bolshoi Theatre dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko is escorted out of a court room in Moscow, Nov. 6, 2013.Bolshoi Theatre dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko is escorted out of a court room in Moscow, Nov. 6, 2013.
Bolshoi Theatre dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko is escorted out of a court room in Moscow, Nov. 6, 2013.
Bolshoi Theatre dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko is escorted out of a court room in Moscow, Nov. 6, 2013.
State prosecutors demanded a nine-year jail sentence on Friday for a dancer accused of ordering an acid attack that nearly blinded the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director and exposed bitter rivalries at one of Russia's great cultural institutions.

Pavel Dmitrichenko, a former soloist at the Bolshoi, showed no emotion as he sat still in a courtroom cage listening to the prosecution summary in a trial that lasted one month. The judge said she would issue a verdict on Tuesday.

The prosecution also asked for 10 years in prison for Yuri Zarutsky, who is accused of throwing the acid in artistic director Sergei Filin's face last January, and six years for Andrei Lipatov, accused of driving him to and from the scene.

“Dmitrichenko's motive was a conflict between Filin and Dmitrichenko,” prosecutor Yulia Shumovskaya told the Moscow court, saying the dispute was caused by the dancer's disappointment at not being given good roles by Filin.

Filin's lawyer, Natalia Zhivotkova, said: “All the defendants are guilty and, from our point of view, deserve no mercy.”

Filin, 43, was left writhing in agony in the snow outside his apartment late at night before he managed to get help after the attack by a masked assailant.

He has since returned to his job at the Bolshoi Theater but always wears dark glasses and needs further surgery to save his sight, even after more than 20 operations.

In a final statement from a courtroom cage, Dmitrichenko reiterated that he had wanted Filin roughed up and given Zarutsky the go-ahead to beat him, but never intended acid to be thrown in his face.

“I regret this very much,” said Dmitrichenko, 29. “The whole situation happened because of my big mouth.”

But he repeated that he does not admit guilt and placed the blame on Zarutsky, who has testified that throwing acid in Filin's face was his own idea and that he had not told Dmitrichenko he planned to do it.

“My parents raised me properly, and I have never in my life wanted to cause anyone the kind of pain that was inflicted on Sergei,” Dmitrichenko said.

“I am not a vengeful person,” he said. “We are artists, we are emotional people. Emotions are part of our profession.”

Tarnished reputation

Zarutsky, an ex-convict and the only defendant who has admitted guilt, said he deserved no leniency but asked the court to have mercy on Dmitrichenko and Lipatov.

“It turned out very ugly on my part, to have drawn two innocent people into this escapade,” he said, asking forgiveness from Filin and the parents of his co-defendants.

The case has tarnished the reputation of the colonnaded Bolshoi Theater, which stands a stone's throw from Moscow's Red Square and the Kremlin, and has caused one of its worst crises since its foundation in 1776.

The theater has made management changes to try to train the spotlight back on the stage, but the toxic rivalries in the wings have flared up in court, including when Filin came face to face with his alleged attackers. He said Dmitrichenko falsely accused him of favoritism and affairs with ballerinas.

Defense witnesses, meanwhile, portrayed Filin as an imperious hothead and Dmitrichenko as a champion of others in the company who felt slighted but feared to speak out against the artistic director, who has considerable power to make or break careers.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs