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Indictment in Bolshoi trial spells out acid attack plot

October 29, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading dancer at Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing in Moscow on Tuesday.
Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading dancer at Russia's Bolshoi Ballet,… (Vasily Maximov / AFP/Getty…)

MOSCOW -- Bolshoi Ballet leading soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two other men were indicted Tuesday for the sulfuric acid attack on the company's artistic director, Sergei Filin.

Dmitrichenko, looking haggard and nervous in court, pleaded not guilty and after hearing the indictment read his own version of events from handwritten notes.

The indictment says that Dmitrichenko, driven by animosity toward Filin over the distribution of dance roles and fees, hired Yuri Zarutsky and Andrei Lipatov and masterminded the Jan. 17, 2013, acid attack months before.

Prosecutor Yulia Shumovskaya said in the indictment that as early as Oct. 12, 2012, Dmitrichenko led the two men to Filin’s house, showed them the entrance and the compound gates and assigned them their roles.

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She alleged that Dmitrichenko then bought the men cellphones and SIM cards and registered them in “the names of nonexistent people,” she said.

According to the indictment Zarutsky, who had already served seven years in prison for inflicting serious bodily harm on his victim, was told to get sulfuric acid and throw it into Filin’s face. Lipatov's role, the indictment said, was to drive Zarutsky and help him get away.

“In November Zarutsky bought acid-containing liquid for a car battery at a spare parts shop near Moscow," the indictment said, "then boiled the contents to make the concentration of sulfuric acid thicker and filled a 250-mg bottle with it.”

The indictment further stated that on the night of Jan. 17 Zarutsky waited near Filin's downtown Moscow home while Dmitrichenko sat in a friend’s car in the Bolshoi Theater’s parking lot, waiting for Filin to emerge.

When Filin surfaced at 10:45 p.m., Dmitrichenko phoned Zarutsky, the indictment claimed, and told him that Filin would be home in 20 minutes, then followed Filin’s car. He called Zarutsky one more time at 10:59 p.m. to say that Filin was arriving.

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Filin suffered first-, second- and third-degree burns over his face, hands and 4% of his body. His eyesight was seriously damaged and he lost 35% of his general working ability, the indictment said.

Dmitrichenko responded: “I don’t recognize the fact of a conspiracy to inflict bodily harm on Filin. I didn’t conspire in advance either with Zarutsky or Lipatov about committing a crime. I didn’t conspire that Zarutsky should approach Filin and throw acid into his face.

“The sulfuric attack was a result of the beastly conduct of Zarutsky but not my activity,” he added. “Zarutsky committed this act on his own initiative.”

According to Dmitrichenko’s account Zarutsky approached him and told him that he was thinking about taking his 2-year old daughter to a Bolshoi ballet school. Dmitrichenko said he told him about the complicated life at the theater, not aware of Zarutsky's criminal background.

Dmitrichenko also claimed that “Sergei Filin was involved in intimate relationships with a number of ballerinas under his command as their chief ... for example, as was proven by the investigation, with [ballerina] Olga Smirnova."

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Dmitrichenko charged that Zarutsky also had a personal motive for the attack.

“He wanted to put me under control by using this act to blackmail me in the future,” he said.

Dmitrichenko conceded that he acquired cellphones for Zarutsky and himself but said he didn’t know the SIM cards were registered in the names of nonexistent persons.

Dmitrichenko also admitted he sat in his friend’s car at the theater’s parking lot on the night of the attack, but “it was for a different purpose and I didn’t follow Filin’s car as our routes went in different ways,” he said.

Dmitrichenko conceded that he called Zarutsky many times, but only to respond to his messages, and those were not associated with the crime.

Lipatov, the driver, pleaded not guilty too.

Zarutsky admitted he committed the crime and that he acted on his own initiative, with no conspiracy involving either of the other defendants.

Filin’s lawyer Tatiana Stukalova said she was not surprised at Zarutsky's plea.

“Should he admit to a conspiracy and implicate Dmitrichenko he may get 12 years in prison,” she said. “But if he is convicted for doing it alone, as he pleaded now, he may get off with a much lighter sentence.”

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According to the indictment, police experts discovered traces of sulfuric acid on Zarutsky’s bag and jacket.

Stukalova said that by shifting all the blame on Zarutsky and knowing that this version in a way helps Zarutsky too, Dmitrichenko wants to escape responsibility for the crime.

She said it was unmanly of Dmitrichenko to implicate Filin in sexual relationships with the company’s ballerinas.

“Even if this were true it in no way justifies throwing sulfuric acid into Filin’s face,” Stukalova concluded.

Filin, who is currently in Germany getting more treatment for his injuries, may be called to appear in court in the near future, the judge indicated.


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