Injured Bolshoi Ballet director forgives attackers

MOSCOW Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:33am EST

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by REN TV in a Moscow hospital January 18, 2013. REUTERS/REN TV via Reuters TV

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by REN TV in a Moscow hospital January 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/REN TV via Reuters TV

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet says the attacker who splashed acid in his face was probably driven by ambition or resentment but that he has forgiven them.

His head shaven and a bandage around his neck, Sergei Filin told a Russian television station from his hospital room that he was determined to return to work despite his injuries.

Filin, 42, suffered severe burns during the attack on his way home from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow late on January 18. Doctors have performed two operations on each eye and hope to save his sight.

"I am not going to lie. Of course it is very hard for me and very difficult," Filin said in grainy footage in a video-link with NTV television late on Sunday.

"I tell myself every morning when I wake up: 'Sergei, you are healthy, everything is in its place - your arms, your legs'. ... And I will do everything to go back to being the same Sergei I was before."

Filin did not wear the thick bandages that had swathed his head and face in mobile phone footage taken the day after the attack, but his eyes were half-closed and it was unclear whether he could see.

Filin's job gave him the power to make or break careers at the ballet, which is an enduring symbol of Russian culture. He said after the attack that he had been receiving threats.

"A priest came to me, and I told him: 'You know, I forgive everyone, and God will be their judge. Because people are weak'," he said. "I forgive all the people who are involved in this."

He said he did not know who was behind the attack but made clear he believed that it was related to his work.

"Before somehow satisfying their ambitions or quenching the pain of resentment ... it would be truly good if they would just think about the fact that I have three remarkable sons," Filin said.

"Even if the worst happens, I will continue to look upon this world, and I will continue to do what I do - but it will be through the eyes of my three sons."

Russia's top eye doctor told Reuters last week that Filin would retain at least some vision in each eye.

"I promise, you will see me on stage," Filin said.

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