Bolshoi accused of witch hunt over acid attack

A MOSCOW court yesterday annulled one of two reprimands given to a top ballet dancer by the Bolshoi Theatre after he accused it of using an acid attack on its artistic director as a pretext for a “witch hunt” against him.

The attack that almost blinded Sergei Filin in January has exposed seething rivalries at the ballet, perhaps Russia’s best-known cultural symbol.

Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko and two alleged accomplices are in jail awaiting trial, and the investigation is continuing.

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However, after the attack, the spotlight fell on 39-year-old Georgian-born Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a principal dancer and teacher who has clashed with the theatre’s leadership.

Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov was quoted as saying in February that he saw the attack on Mr Filin as “a logical result of the excesses created above all by … Tsiskaridze” and accusing the dancer of “mudslinging”. He and many performers said they suspected a wider conspiracy.

“How could I be linked to a criminal case in which I have taken no part,” Mr Tsiskaridze said in court yesterday. “I have an iron-clad alibi since at that time I was [acting] in front of a thousand people.”

The theatre filed two reprimands against Mr Tsiskaridze for giving unauthorised interviews in the wake of the attack.