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  • 21 January 2013, 22:30

Bolshoi Ballet Boss's Eyesight May Be Saved

Russian doctors have said the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin could regain the sight in at least one eye despite an acid attack his colleagues have blamed on infighting at the famed theatre.

But they have also warned that a string of operations is needed before they can determine whether one of Russia's greatest performers of recent times can return to the world's most influential job in dance.

The Moscow health service's top eyesight specialist Larisa Mashetova told Russian TV: "The trend is generally positive.

"He is regaining sight faster in one eye, but I think that we are going to even things out for both.

"Still, the recovery process will take a lot of time."

Filin, who was appointed artistic director in 2011 after an acclaimed stage career, suffered third-degree burns to his face last Thursday night when a masked man cornered him near his central Moscow house.

It was later confirmed that the attacker used sulphuric acid. CCTV footage showed a figure running away through an empty outdoor car park in the dark.

Several of the ballet's greatest dancers have since reported infighting at the Bolshoi - founded in 1776 - and voiced fears the attack may be linked to Filin's decision to award major roles to his favourite dancers.

They said the 42-year-old himself had on occasion mentioned feeling like he was in a constant fight for survival with his staff.

In recent weeks, he has been plagued with anonymous threats, which colleagues have said may be due to jealousy from those who lost out on the position.

He went on TV on Friday and said of the attack: "I got scared, to be honest, I thought he would shoot me.

"I understood the (courtyard) door didn't open after I dialled the code and I turned away to run but he was faster and got ahead - I had a jacket hood on - and he splashed something into my face from below."

Moscow police have so far made no arrests - they spent the weekend interviewing Bolshoi dancers and directors as part of their investigation.

Filin is scheduled for more operations on his skin and eyes this week.

"We have completed the first of what might be three or four procedures," said Moscow health department chief Georgy Golukhov.

"He can see slightly better out of his right eye than the left."

The Bolshoi is currently in rehearsals and is not scheduled to perform again in Moscow until Thursday.

Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky visited Filin in hospital on Sunday and was surprised to find the patient eager to discuss the ballet troupe's future with him.

"To my shock, what we ended up discussing was not his current state or personal fortunes, but his creative plans," said Mr Medinsky.

"We talked about who might lead the troupe for now."

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