Ex- Bolshoi Dancer Gets Six Years in Acid Attack

PHOTO: Pavel Dmitrichenko stands inside a barred enclosure at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia
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A former top dancer from Russia's famous Bolshoi ballet has been found guilty of masterminding a vicious acid attack on the theater's artistic director earlier this year.

A judge in Moscow sentenced the dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, to six years in prison for ordering the attack. The man Dmitrichenko hired to carry it out received a 10 year sentence.

The acid scandal rocked the Bolshoi, a centuries-old ballet company that is considered among the world's best.

The artistic director, Sergei Filin, was nearly blinded when the assailant splashed acid in his face as he walked to his apartment on a snowy night in January.

In a twist that rivals any of the Bolshoi's dramatic productions, six weeks later police detained Dmitrichenko and charged him with planning the attack.

In a video released by authorities, Dmitrichenko softly admitted his guilt, though he later denied that he ordered the attacker to use acid.

The trial aired the Bolshoi's dirty laundry. This was an act of revenge, the judge decided today, after Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, a Bolshoi ballerina, was repeatedly passed over for top roles.

Witnesses testified about rampant nepotism and corruption at the Bolshoi, with money and favors exchanged for coveted positions.

In his testimony before court, Filin denied awarding dance roles for anything other than merit. He said that in the months leading to the attack he was subjected to increasing efforts to intimidate him. His email was hacked, he received threatening text messages, and his tires were slashed, he said.

It has been a dark year for the Bolshoi.

Last month, Joy Womack, the first American to graduate from the Bolshoi dance academy accused the theater of extortion.

Womack told the Russian newspaper Izvestia that an unnamed theater executive had suggested it would cost her around $10,000 to advance in her dancing career.

Earlier in the year, a former Bolshoi ballerina said she and other dancers had been encouraged to sleep with wealthy theater patrons in exchange for the dance roles they wanted.

On Monday the Bolshoi's orchestra conductor submitted his resignation. His reason for doing so was not immediately disclosed.

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