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Bolshoi ballet chief vows to return after acid attack

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, attends a news conference in the university hospital in the western German city
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, attends a news conference in the university hospital in the western German city

AACHEN, Germany (Reuters) - The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet said on Friday he was determined to return to his old life after recovering from an acid attack that badly damaged his eyes, and his German doctor said this should be possible.

A masked assailant splashed acid in the face of Sergei Filin as he returned home from the Bolshoi on January 17. Police have charged a top dancer at the world-renowned theatre, Pavel Dmitrichenko, along with two alleged accomplices.

Wearing dark glasses and a black hat and scarf, Filin appeared at a news conference with his doctor in the west German town of Aachen where he is undergoing treatment to save his eyesight.

"I have plenty of strength and I have the confidence and desire to get back what was wrongly taken from me," said Filin.

"I will do everything, and the doctors who work with me, they will do everything possible too, so I think together we will get great results," he said, speaking Russian.

Filin, 42, described the exercises he did with his doctor, Martin Hermel, and said he felt a "great joy" when he was able to repeat certain movements.

"When I can see everything again, I will have no fear and I would like to work again just as I did before. Without fear, without anxiety," he added.

Hermel said there had been some improvement in Filin's left eye but that the right eye would probably require further surgery and other treatment.

"Overall, we can say that we hope Mr. Filin will recover sufficient vision to enable him to go back to his normal life and his professional life," said Hermel, head doctor at Aachen University's eye clinic.

Asked about the suspect now in custody in Moscow, Filin said: "This person certainly belongs to that small circle of people whom I had suspected." Filin has previously said he believed he knew who was behind the attack on him.

There has been lively debate in Moscow over possible motives for the attack, which police have so far given only as personal hostility based on a conflict at the Bolshoi.

Sources close to the Bolshoi and Russia media reports have said Dmitrichenko was angry that his partner, Bolshoi ballerina Anzhelina Vorontsova, had missed out on top roles including the lead in the ballet classic Swan Lake.

The acid attack shocked Russians but President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said this week it should not ruin the theatre's reputation.

Dmitrichenko, 29, confessed in a police video to organizing the assault but said in court that he did not intend Filin's assailant to use acid.

But about 300 performers at the Bolshoi have written a letter urging Putin to order a new inquiry, saying they believe Dmitrichenko confessed due to police pressure.

(Writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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