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Bolshoi acid attack victim hopes to work again

Friday - 3/15/2013, 11:26pm  ET

Artistic director of the Bolshoi's ballet Sergei Filin drying his eye during a press conference at the university hospital in Aachen, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2013. Filin gets medical treatment in Germany, especially on his eyes, after he was attacked with acid in January in Moscow. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

DAVID McHUGH
Associated Press

AACHEN, Germany (AP) -- The Bolshoi ballet artistic director badly burned in an acid attack said Friday he is "full of strength and faith" that he will eventually see well enough to return to work at the famed Moscow theater.

Sergei Filin, swathed in a large black scarf and knitted hat to cover his burns, spoke at a news conference at a German hospital, where doctors said one of his badly damaged eyes had shown some improvement and that they remained hopeful he would recover useful vision.

"I am full of strength and faith that I will recover what has been unjustly taken from me," Filin said as he thanked doctors in Germany for their help treating his eyes and burned skin. He said he was not afraid of returning to the theater despite reports of murky rivalries at the ballet that might have been behind the attack.

He said he was in daily contact with his deputy at the theater by telephone and had no fear about going back to work. "As soon as I can see ... I will go back and do the same work. ... I am not afraid."

Dressed head to toe in black and wearing large dark glasses, Filin walked into the auditorium at the Aachen University Clinic with an interpreter close at his side, and sat quietly as doctors discussed his treatment. He was led out by hospital staff afterward.

Dr. Martin Hermel, an eye specialist, said that Filin suffered damage to the surface and inner parts of both eyes and had undergone several surgeries. He cautioned that Filin faces "complex and long-term treatment" that could take months rather than weeks.

Hermel said that he held out hope that Filin would "recover useable vision" to allow him to return to his professional duties.

His left eye had shown some improvement, Hermel said. As for the right, which suffered more severe damage, "we cannot at this point make a statement about the prognosis for vision in this eye.

Filin was attacked in January by a masked man who splashed sulfuric acid onto his face, leaving him with severe burns on his eyes and skin.

Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, who has been arrested on suspicion of organizing the attack, told a Moscow court that he gave his blessing for the Jan. 17 attack but never expected the perpetrator to use acid and cause such harm to Filin.

The Bolshoi Theater's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has accused veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inciting tensions in the theater that led to the attack. Tsiskaridze, a long-time fierce critic of Iksanov who is reported to aspire to his job, has rejected the allegation.

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Vasilyeva contributed from Moscow.


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