Russian dancer jailed for acid attack returns to Bolshoi for ballet classes

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former dancer at Russia’s famous Bolshoi Theatre who was jailed for organizing an acid attack on his boss has been allowed to attend ballet classes at the theater, a Bolshoi spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko was sentenced in December 2013 to six years in prison over the attack, in which a masked assailant threw sulphuric acid in the face of Sergei Filin, who was then the theater’s artistic director. Dmitrichenko was freed on parole in May.

A fellow defendant was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment over the attack, which lifted the lid on poisonous rivalries over roles, money and power at one of Russia’s most prominent cultural institutions.

“The administration of the Bolshoi Theatre decided to meet the request of Pavel Dmitrichenko and to allow him to attend a morning ballet class. This in no way means that he will work for the Bolshoi in the future,” the theater spokeswoman said.

After the attack Filin - who had himself been a lead Bolshoi dancer in the past - was partially blinded. He remained artistic director until July 2015 when his contract expired. Currently, he heads the Bolshoi’s young choreographers’ studio.

The head of the Bolshoi, Vladimir Urin, told Russian media that Dmitrichenko had not rejoined the theater’s staff.

“The main question is whether he will be able to regain the fitness necessary for a Bolshoi dancer,” he was quoted as saying by Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.

Reporting by Maria Vasilyeva; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Gareth Jones