Leading Bolshoi ballerina delays return to Russia following threats

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A LEADING ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet who is on leave in Canada says she does not want to return to Russia after receiving threats – a development that follows an acid attack on the dance troupe’s ballet chief.

Svetlana Lunkina, 33, told the Russian daily Izvestia that she had asked the Bolshoi to extend her leave as she fears returning to the country.

Her statement came two weeks after an attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, who was badly burned when an unidentified masked assailant threw sulphuric acid in his face.

A Bolshoi spokeswoman confirmed the theatre had accepted Lunkina’s request to extend her leave, but made no further comment. The ballerina said she was scared to hear about the attack on Mr Filin, who has undergone several operations to save his eyesight and treat severe burns.

“I feel a strong compassion for his family,” Lunkina said. “I hope they will find those who committed that crime.”

She admitted that her ties with Mr Filin were strained, saying that he recently told the company that “Lunkina will not come back here”, but added that she remains hopeful of returning to the Bolshoi.

Lunkina said the threats she received were linked to a conflict between her husband and a business partner over a film about Mathilde Kschessinskaya, a Russian prima ballerina famous for both her talent as a dancer and for her liaison with Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II.

She said her husband, Vladislav Moskalyov, had a falling out with Vladimir Vinokur, who heads the Vinokur Foundation for Arts and Culture. The ballerina said she had received threats from the foundation, which had sent letters to the Bolshoi and other theatres that she said aimed to smear her reputation.