Dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko looks out from the defendant's
holding cell during a hearing in Moscow. REUTERS/Maxim
Russian dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko pleaded not guilty to
ordering an acid attack that nearly blinded the Bolshoi
ballet's artistic director, and a jobless former convict
accused of carrying it out told a court he had acted alone.
Guards brought Dmitrichenko and the suspected attacker, Yuri
Zarutsky, handcuffed into a Moscow court room and locked them
in a metal cage with a third defendant at the start of a case
that has tarnished the reputation of a prime Russian cultural
All face 12 years jail if convicted of intentionally
inflicting grave bodily harm on Sergei Filin in the Jan.17
attack that shocked Russia.
Dmitrichenko, looking pale and reading out a pre-written
statement from a piece of paper, denied the charges. He had
said previously that he wanted Filin to be roughed up but had
been shocked to learn that acid was used.
"What happened to Filin is a result of Zarutsky's savage
conduct, not a result of my activities. I had no hostile
attitude towards Filin," Dmitrichenko said.
"Zarutsky... heeding his own motives, committed this
dangerous act, which we never discussed since I had no
intent, and could not have had one to commit such act in any
Prosecutors say Zarutsky attacked Filin on his return home
from the Bolshoi late in the evening and left the 43-year-old
in the snow, writhing in agony.
"I admit guilt," Zarutsky, wearing jeans and a sweater, said
from the cage.
"I admit being guilty of attacking Filin. But I do not admit
to doing it in cahoots with Pavel Dmitrichenko and Andrei
Lipatov," he said, referring to the other two defendants.
Zarutsky, 35, in the past spent 7 years in jail for battery,
his defence lawyer Sergei Kuprianov said.
He said under Russian law, the maximum jail sentence would be
lower if the judge ruled the suspects were not acting as a
group and found only one person responsible.
Dmitrichenko and Zarutsky sat at different ends of the court
room cage and did not speak to one another, separated by
Lipatov who is accused of driving the attacker to and from
Dmitrichenko said during pre-trial hearings he had become
acquainted with Zarutsky at his country house outside Moscow
and had complained to him before the attack over what he
described as favouritism by Filin in his powerful role.
Filin was not present during the hearing. His lawyer said he
was in Germany for more medical treatment on his eyes after
more than 20 surgeries to save his sight and treat his face.
The scandal led to the dismissal of Anatoly Iksanov, veteran
head of the Bolshoi, a colonnaded building near the redbrick
walls of the Kremlin. The new head, Vladimir Urin, hopes to
turn the spotlight back to the stage from behind-the-scenes
Prior to his departure, Iksanov suggested that another top
ballet dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, might have played a role
in inciting the attack. Tsiskaridze denied playing any part
and, when his contract was not renewed in June, accused
Iksanov of conducting a witch-hunt to hound him out of the
On Monday, Tsiskaridze was appointed acting director at the
Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia's second city, St