MOSCOW-Three suspects, including a top ballet dancer, have reportedly confessed to carrying out a vicious sulfuric acid attack on Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the renowned Bolshoi ballet, in January.
Police said the three men each signed statements admitting their role in the plot. Russian television aired footage of a confession by Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading soloist with the Bolshoi, who is believed to have been the mastermind. The other two men are believed to be the hooded attacker and his getaway driver. All three were detained on Tuesday and Dmitrichenko's home was searched. According to the newspaper Izvestia, authorities used electronic surveillance to track the suspects using their cell phones.
"The motive for the crime lies in (Filin's) hostile relations with Dmitrichenko connected to his work," police said in a statement Wednesday, according to RIA Novosti.
The statement did not elaborate on the nature of their dispute, but according to AFP, the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported the two clashed after Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, another up and coming Bolshoi dancer, was passed over for top roles.
In the taped confession that aired on television, Dmitrichenko said, "I masterminded this attack, but not to the extent that it eventually happened."
Dmitrichenko, who recently performed the lead role in a production of the Soviet-era ballet "Ivan the Terrible," has been with the Bolshoi ballet since 2002. He was next scheduled to appear in the role of a Blue Bird in a production of Tchaikovsky's "A Sleeping Beauty" on March 16.
His girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, was reportedly passed over for top roles, including in a production of "Swan Lake," according to Moskovsky Komsomolets. She was a protégé of Nikolai Tsiskaridze, another former Bolshoi principal dancer and a rival of Filin who wanted the artistic director job.
Filin was once the Bolshoi's principal dancer and was named artistic director in 2011 amid controversial competition for the job. He was splashed with acid outside his home in central Moscow on Jan. 17 by a hooded assailant who then fled. Filin's face was severely burned and he is currently in Germany as doctors work to restore his eyesight.
In an interview with the BBC before he left Russia, Filin said he had an idea who was behind the attack, but declined to name names.
Early on, fingers were pointed at Tsiskaridze, because of his public criticism of Filin's work as artistic director and his own ambitions for the job. He has denied any involvement in the attack.
Filin reportedly told associates in the months leading up to the assault that he had been the subject of an intimidation campaign, including harassing calls and messages, but he declined offers of protection.