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Bolshoi Ballet rejects allegations against dancer in acid attack

By Josh Levs and Alla Eshchenko, CNN
March 13, 2013 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko performs during the media preview of
Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko performs during the media preview of "Ivan The Terrible" in November of 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Bolshoi Ballet cast and crew issue an open letter standing by the plot's alleged mastermind
  • The letter suggests illegal methods in obtaining Pavel Dmitrichenko's confession
  • Police say their investigators are acting honestly
  • The ballet wants an independent commission to investigate

Moscow (CNN) -- The Bolshoi Ballet says the allegations swirling around one of its dancers -- that he choreographed an attack to blind the artistic director -- are "absurd."

Even an alleged confession in the case does nothing to convince the cast and crew that Pavel Dmitrichenko could be behind the attack that severely burned and nearly blinded Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi employees said in an open letter Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, the history of our country and our society knows many examples" when results were achieved by "illegal methods, and evidence and proof often turned out to be a fiction," the letter said.

The group called for an independent commission to probe the attack.

Moscow police struck back, saying its "investigators do their job honestly."

Ballet 'villain' arrested: Story in 4 Acts

The plot laid out by authorities pits Dmitrichenko as the central villain, lashing out against Filin -- a man who often cast Dmitrichencko as the villain in productions.

What neither side disputes: Someone threw sulfuric acid into Filin's face in January as he entered his Moscow apartment.

Police say Dmitrichenko had two co-conspirators, one of whom threw the acid.

Local newspapers had quoted ballet members as saying Dmitrichenko was angry because he thought Filin was stifling the career of Anzhelina Vorontsova -- Dmitrichenko's girlfriend.

"For everyone who knows Pavel Dmitrichenko, even the idea that he could be the mastermind and the customer of the crime committed in such a brutal form, is absurd," the Bolshoi's cast and crew said in their letter.

"Having known Pavel personally for many years, we are convinced that despite his notorious temper, his hot-headedness and his straightforwardness, he is a very decent and sympathetic person who is always ready to extend a helping hand."

The members added they are convinced "that the fundamental disagreements with Sergei Filin about his artistic and personnel policy in the ballet could not go beyond the law. We believe that the investigation's findings are too rushed, the evidence seems unconvincing and we view Pavel's testimony, which was later changed, as given under pressure."

Dmitrichenko and his two alleged accomplices are being held until the police investigation is over.

It may take at least six months for Filin to recover from the burns. Doctors performed a skin graft on him, and, after a second eye surgery, were able to save his sight.

Filin is "coming through the toughest period of his life," the ballet said. "We hope that the true reasons and circumstances of this crime would be established."

Police said the investigation is still ongoing, and preliminary results will be reported to the ballet and to the public.

Last week, police declared their case was solved with Dmitrichenko's confession.

"I organized this attack but not to the extent that it happened," the dancer is heard saying in a video released by police.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported that before the attack, Filin suffered months of intimidation, including threatening phone calls, someone slashing his tires, and someone attempting to hack his Facebook page.

CNN's Alla Eshchenko reported from Moscow; CNN's Josh Levs reported from Atlanta. CNN's Alan Duke contributed to this report.

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