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Dancer acid attack: Russia’s star ballet dancer gets 6 years for acid attack

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The dancer acid attack, masterminded by Russia’s star ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, has resulted in six years of prison for Bolshoi’s most famous solo dancer. Two other people were sentenced on Tuesday for the acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin, reported CNN on Dec. 3, 2013.

In January, Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin was walking home to his Moscow apartment when he was suddenly attacked by a masked man with sulfuric acid. He was severely burned and blinded from the acid and since the incident, Sergei Filin has been under treatment with doctors in Germany trying to save his eyesight.

Russia’s media and people familiar with Russia’s renowned Bolshoi Ballet suspected that the ballet’s star solo dancer, 29-year-old Pavel Dmitrichenko, was involved in the acid attack.

Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet and its star dancer are internationally renowned and admired as one of the world’s oldest classical ballet companies. The Bolshoi Ballet has been in existence since 1776 and is based at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia. However, equally renowned are the intrigues and interpersonal dramas that are occurring at the famous Bolshoi Ballet.

Just a few months before the acid attack, Joy Womack, the first American to fulfill her dream of training at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, quit the Bolshoi Ballet in less than two years. According to a PRI report, the 19-year-old dancer “accused a director there, whom she did not name, of extortion. She told a Russian newspaper that the director insisted she pay $10,000 to secure a solo.”

In the end, Joy Womack’s conflict with the Bolshoi Ballet was interpreted not as a case of a rich American being able to pay extortion money but as an American who “was much less willing to engage in the various politics and interpersonal dramas that play out inside the theater."

Other interpersonal dramas occurring at the Bolshoi Ballet include an alleged system of sponsorship that “encourages” ballerinas to have a sexual relationship with wealthy supporters of the theater.

“They say if a ballerina has a sponsor, she's more likely to get a lead role. It is, essentially, part of the Bolshoi tradition going back hundreds of years. The billionaires and multimillionaires who have the resources to sponsor and finance the theater, they are allowed to attend these galas where, allegedly, directors encourage the ballerinas to develop relationships with them that are sometimes not platonic."

Pavel V. Dmitrichenki said during the dancer acid attack trial that “he had wanted Filin to be punished in some way for failing to give him the roles he wanted; for example, by being beaten up. But, the dancer said, he did not expect Filin to be subjected to an acid attack.”

Yuri Zarutsky, who was the masked man that attacked Bolshoi’s director Filin, said that the acid attack was his idea and not the idea of solo dancer Pavel.

Despite Yuri Zarutsky’s admission to the acid attack and despite a signed letter by other Bolshoi dancers asking the judge for leniency for Pavel V. Dmitrichenki, the judge still felt that the former Bolshoi Ballet solo dancer was the mastermind behind the acid attack and sentenced him for six years.

Yuri Zarutsky received 10 years and the driver, Andrei Lipatov, received a four-year sentence. The lawyer of Russia’s former renowned solo dancer Pavel V. Dmitrichenki said after the acid attack sentencing that he would appeal the judge’s decision.

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