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Police detain suspect in Bolshoi ballet director acid attack

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Moscow police on Tuesday detained a suspect who allegedly splashed acid in the face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet in an attack that shocked the world artistic community and left the troupe in crisis.

The 42-year-old Sergei Filin was struck with sulphuric acid by a masked assailant as he was entering his apartment building through a dark parking lot in mid-January.

Filin spent about two weeks in a Moscow hospital getting treatment for burns to his face and having a series of surgeries on his eyes.

He has since been moved to Germany for further treatment that may take months. His sight was last reported to have been partially recovered in one eye.

"In the course of the investigation... today, Moscow police officers delivered for questioning one of the suspects," Moscow police said in a brief statement.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova told the RIA Novosti news agency that "investigators have confirmed to me that they have detained the person who committed the attack".

The LifeNews.ru website said the police managed to track the suspect by checking mobile phone records from the area on the night of the attack.

It said the suspect was detained in his home during an early morning raid and then had his apartment searched.

The site also reported a new round of searches at the Bolshoi -- something the theatre itself could not confirm.

The January incident left one of the world's most renowned dance companies in crisis amid reports of years of furious infighting among its principal dancers.

Filin said after the attack that he received threatening phone calls and had the tyre of his car slashed in the preceeding weeks.

"I should have taken these threats more seriously," he said in an interview with one Moscow newspaper.

Several Bolshoi members have already been questioned as witnesses as part of the case.

But an unnamed law enforcement source told the Interfax news agency that the person detained by police was not a member of the Bolshoi.

"The detained is the presumed executor of the attack. He is not a member of the Bolshoi Theatre," the official was quoted as saying.

The source added that Filin gave evidence to investigators before departing for Germany.

The former dancer has said several times that he knew who may have ordered the attack and blamed the incident on personal rivalries at the venerable theatre.

Police sources did not specify whether they were close to identifying the person who may have hired the individual who eventually splashed Filin.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Novikova said the detention was "good news for us".

"There is hope that they are on someone's trail," she told Interfax.

"If they found the person who did this, there is also hope that they will find the person who ordered it," she said.

Novikova added that she hoped that Filin would recover in time to return to work by the time the troupe made its high-profile appearance in London this summer.

Filin has been replaced as the ballet's artistic director on an interim basis by veteran ballerina Galina Stepanenko.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130305/police-detain-suspect-bolshoi-ballet-director-acid-attack-2