January 19, 2013 (TSR) – The Bolshoi ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin is stable and recovering in Moscow following a horrific acid attack but doctors say they’ll need at least a week to know how much vision he will retain.
Filin suffered serious injury to his eyes and the skin of his head after a masked man threw acid in his face outside his home late Thursday.
Following emergency surgery on his eyes, the former dancer was taken out of intensive care and was in stable condition in a regular hospital room, Alexander Mitichkin, the head doctor at Moscow’s Clinic 36 told Russian news agencies on Saturday.
Police declined to discuss any leads in the case or the type of acid used in the attack, despite top officials on Friday saying the probe was a top priority.
Investigators were questioning Filin in hospital, a Moscow police spokesman told the Interfax news agency.
Filin’s eyes will remain bandaged for days and it was unclear how much eyesight, if any, the ballet chief will regain.
He will also have cosmetic surgery procedures on the third-degree burns to his face.
Initial plans to move Filin to a top burns hospital near Brussels were scrapped after it was decided that saving his eyes was a higher priority, Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said in televised remarks.
The attack on Filin, a charismatic 42-year-old who runs and was appointed to the world’s biggest and most prestigious Bolshoi ballet company since 2011 and began adding modern stagings to the theatre’s classic repertoire, horrified the dance community and stirred rumours around the institution, revered in Russia but periodically enveloped in scandals.
Filin’s colleagues and Bolshoi’s general director Anatoly Iksanov said Filin’s professional work was the reason for the attack, and that it was the finale of a long-term intimidation campaign which included hacking of his website, phone calls, and damage to his car.
The Vesti channel on Saturday said the colleagues had a suspect in mind but weren’t sharing the identity with the media.
In a sign that other energetic culture figures may be under similar pressure, another artistic director, Kirill Serebrennikov of Moscow’s Gogol drama theatre said he has also been intimidated by unknown individuals.
After Filin’s attack, Serebrennikov posted on Facebook a threatening text message he received on New Year’s Eve.
‘If you don’t leave the Gogol Theatre, then you are next,’ the message said. ‘You will be beaten for real, you just wait.’
‘I’ve received threats for a long time,’ wrote Serebrennikov, an award-winning film and theatre director who was appointed to revamp the old-fashioned Gogol theatre last summer amid protests from the troupe.
Investigators have yet to name a suspect or comment on the motive behind the attack, but friends have speculated it may stem from resentments over power or casting decision at the Bolshoi.
Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets has personally assumed responsibility for the case, Russian media reported.
Mr. Filin, who is married with children, was one of the world’s top male dancers, famed for performing the role of the handsome prince in classics such as The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.