sun 21/12/2014

Opinion: Crime and moral evasion at the Bolshoi Ballet | Dance reviews, news & interviews

Opinion: Crime and moral evasion at the Bolshoi Ballet

Charged dancer won't apologise to acid victim as he "didn't order the acid"

Unrepentant: Pavel Dmitrichenko today at his first court appearance© Alexander Davashkin/Izvestia

So the man who specialises in dancing Bolshoi ballet villains has been arrested and confessed to the infamous attack on his boss, Sergei Filin. But today Pavel Dmitrichenko, well-known to Bolshoi audiences for playing Ivan the Terrible, one of Russia's more pitiless Tsars, showed an equally Tsarist haughtiness when he made his first appearance in a Moscow court. He had nothing to apologise for, he said, even though it's emerging that at the very least Filin, a 42-year-old father of three, will never see normally again and his future employment must be in doubt.

Dmitrichenko insisted it wasn't his fault. He didn't mean for acid to be chucked at Filin - that was a step more than he'd paid £1,000 for. He just wanted him beaten up. Things can get out of hand when you pay a Moscow hood, obviously.

dmitrichenko ivan the terribleThe wiry, beady-eyed dancer of 29, who has had a successful and prominent career in the Bolshoi's more tyrannical roles (pictured right as Ivan the Terrible, © Bolshoi Theatre), was refused bail and remanded in custody till April while charges are prepared and investigations continue. In the dock alongside him are Yuri Zarutsky, 35, who carried out the attack, and Andrei Lipatov, the driver hired by Zarutsky to take him from his suburb into central Moscow to Filin's home on the night of 17 January.

Dmitrichenko's story in court was that Zarutsky, who police say has a criminal record, was to blame for the worst atrocity and it appears that the dancer's legal team may attempt to get him charged with a lesser offence. The Bolshoi soloist stood unrepentantly by his onslaught on Filin, who he claims had insulted his girlfriend, a young ballerina, and denied her the roles she deserved. He also claimed that his boss was involved in a Bolshoi management system of corrupt payments to control performers' outside appearances, which he himself had attempted to expose by hacking email and other methods. He had then decided to try to "scare" Filin.

What everyone wants to know is why, if Dmitrichenko only ordered a smashed nose and broken teeth, the hired hand Zarutsky took it further to permanent disfigurement and possible blindness. Was it his own idea, Dmitrichenko’s instruction - or someone else’s?  After all, the court was told, he prepared car battery acid to ensure it would be more destructive. This is rather more cold-blooded and considered than a mere beating-up.

The dancer admitted he knew Zarutsky beforehand and had sat with him in a cafe in a Moscow suburb discussing how to take revenge on Filin. Zarutsky had suggested beating Filin up, and “striking him on the head”, to which Dmitrichenko agreed. He paid him 50,000 rubles (about £1,100). When he later heard that sulphuric acid had been used, he said, “I was in shock.”

Yesterday some Bolshoi dancers were equally in shock at the accusations against Dmitrichenko. Elements of his anti-Filin campaign - the falsification of a Facebook page, the hacking of emails, silent phone calls to his home and slashing of car tyres - were dismissed as "normal adventurism and mischief" in the phrase (translated) of one colleague who, like many others, disbelieved that the impulsive, hot-headed Dmitrichenko could hatch and plan something as cold-hearted as an attempt to maim and blind.

Comments

Fascinating article about a

Fascinating article about a totally repellent and disgraceful situation in what should be one of Russia's flagship cultural institutions and is presumably heavily subsidised by the state. However, no mention is made of a board of management or indeed of any body with authority which could go in and bang heads together (not literally, I hasten to add, but you know what I mean). What's the solution? In a country which can cheerfully sling young ladies in gaol just for getting up the nose of the Church, perhaps only the top man can intervene meaningfully. So, step forward Vladimir Vladimirovich - though no doubt he prefers judo to ballet!

False Facebook page, hacked

False Facebook page, hacked emails, telephone terror and slashed car tyres are "normal adventurism and mischief"? No -- they are serious mobbing tactics. What a joke.

'Moral evasion' is putting it

'Moral evasion' is putting it mildly. I wondered about jumping to conclusions over Russia's current state just because Dmitrichenko thought it was normal to pay a gangster to beat up a fellow artist he didn't like. But then I read the bit about the earlier attacks being deemed 'normal adventurism and mischief' by another artist. Well, maybe in Putinville. Yes, I know it sometimes happens here and in America, but the majority wouldn't see it as acceptable. There, more and more it seems, this really is the norm - as my Russian friends are always telling me. Parallel universes again.

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