(MOSCOW) — The artistic director of the world renowned Bolshoi Ballet was the victim of a vicious acid attack in central Moscow that may stem from rifts within the dance company.
Russian news reports say Sergei Filin was walking home on Thursday night when a masked assailant threw acid on his face and ran off.
Filin, 43, is said to be in stable condition, but the attack left him with third degree burns across his face. Doctors are scrambling to save his eyesight. He is scheduled to undergo surgery and is expected to be flown to Belgium for further treatment. Russian news reports say he will require plastic surgery and that recovery could take months.
Filin was a star ballet dancer with the Bolshoi company before becoming artistic director in 2011. Investigators have suggested that internal theater politics may be behind the attack. In a statement, the Bolshoi Theater said he had been the subject of an intimidation campaign in recent months. According to RIA Novosti, his car tires were slashed, he received threatening phone calls, and there were attempts to hack into his Facebook account.
So far no suspects have been apprehended. RIA Novosti reports that, if caught, they face up to eight years in prison.
The Bolshoi Theater is one of the most prestigious in Moscow, having opened its doors for the first time in 1825. In 2011 it re-opened after a six year renovation that cost an estimated $681 million.
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Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN