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9-year sentence sought against Bolshoi dancer over acid attack

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russian prosecutors Friday demanded a nine-year jail sentence for a Bolshoi ballet dancer accused of masterminding an acid attack that nearly blinded the troupe's artistic director, Sergei Filin.

The long prison term sought for former soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko marks the latest twist in a headline-grabbing case that has captivated the ballet world and revealed deep fissures at the legendary theatre.

The prosecution also asked the court to sentence Dmitrichenko's suspected associate Yury Zarutsky to 10 years for flinging the sulphuric acid in the face of Filin outside his Moscow apartment building on January 17.

It sought a further six years for Andrei Lipatov, who is accused of driving Zarutsky to the artistic director's home.

Moscow's Meshchansky District Court is expected to issue its verdict on Tuesday.

"The accused are all guilty and deserve no leniency," RIA Novosti quoted Filin's lawyer Tatyana Stukalova as telling the court, adding that her client now requires constant assistance and cannot be fully engaged as a parent.

The trio had been held in pre-trial detention since March and appear in court sitting in a cage. Earlier this month they faced Filin, who said in highly emotional testimony that he would never forgive the culprits of robbing him of eyesight.

'I wanted him to get beaten up'

Dmitrichenko, known for dancing dark characters like Ivan the Terrible, has pleaded not guilty, but said Friday that he would admit his guilt of a lesser charge.

"I was not opposed to the idea of (Filin) getting beaten up, in fact I wanted it. So I am ready to answer to the charge of beating," he was quoted as saying.

"What happened to Filin because of Zarutsky is terrible. But I never asked anyone to make anything like that to happen."

Zarutsky said that he never revealed his intention to use acid to Dmitrichenko, and did not tell the driver what he was planning to do, arguing that he acted independently.

Dmitrichenko, 29, is said to have been frustrated by the lack of promotion under Filin for himself and his then girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova.

He had accused the artistic director of running the troupe like his personal "puppet theatre" and creating an unhealthy atmosphere.

Filin, 43 and himself a former Bolshoi star who came back in 2011 as artistic director after joining a different Moscow theatre, said he never had any conflicts with the soloist and denied allegations of taking bribes and mistreating ballerinas.

The sensational case has led to the ouster of Bolshoi director Anatoly Iksanov and dismissal of dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a renowned soloist who supported Dmitrichenko and this week accused Filin of favouritism.

Filin has undergone more than 20 surgeries on his eyes in Germany, but has admitted that his eyesight is nearly lost. The theatre had said that he continues to consult on productions but day-to-day work is now performed by his deputy Galina Stepanenko.

The Bolshoi, a cherished institution that sits across from the Kremlin in central Moscow, has suffered through a string of scandals in the past several years, including overspending on its renovation works and smear campaigns stemming from infighting.

Earlier this month, a young US ballerina announced that she had quit the Bolshoi troupe after being asked to pay $10,000 for a chance to dance a solo part.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131129/9-year-sentence-sought-against-bolshoi-dancer-over-acid-attack