Bolshoi chief fired months after acid attack scandal

The Russian Culture Minister fired the 13-year-head because of a "difficult situation at the theater"


Vladimir Isachenkov
July 9, 2013 5:06PM (UTC)

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Bolshoi's top manager lost his job Tuesday after months of infighting following an acid attack on its artistic director that has stained the reputation of the famed Moscow theater.

The departure of Anatoly Iksanov, the theater's director general, comes just a few weeks after the ouster of his rival, principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Both men have enjoyed the backing of senior government officials and Kremlin-connected tycoons, and their successive dismissals appear to reflect high-level intrigue.

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Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said only that the 61-year old Iksanov, who led the Bolshoi for nearly 13 years, was fired because of a "difficult situation at the theater."

In March, police arrested Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko on suspicion of involvement in the acid attack. Dmitrichenko admitted that he had agreed to an offer from an acquaintance to rough up Filin, but he insisted that the man had used acid on his own initiative.

Despite Dmitrichenko's confession, many in the ballet company have stood by him, saying they do not believe him capable of staging such a crime. About 300 dancers and staff, led by Tsiskaridze, signed an open letter claiming that Dmitrichenko had slandered himself under police pressure.

The Bolshoi reopened in 2011 after a $1 billion renovation. Despite the lavish sum, some of the work was of poor quality, with cracks appearing in the walls and gold leaf crumbling away.

Tsiskaridze has accused Iksanov of mismanaging the reconstruction, ruining its repertoire and abusing dancers' rights. Iksanov and his backers have dismissed the criticism.

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Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report.

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