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Acid attack followed protection plea by Bolshoi Ballet director

MOSCOW — Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director who was severely burned last week when acid was thrown in his face, said in an interview published Tuesday that he asked the theater’s general director for protection in mid-December after receiving threats but was refused and told instead to ‘‘be brave and find the strength within yourself to not react to these threats.’’

Filin, who spoke to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, also said he blamed himself for not taking the threats seriously enough and said he had turned down an offer of a driver and bodyguard, although he did not say who made the offer. Filin, who suffered third-degree burns on his face and eyes, is at risk of losing some of his eyesight.

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Galina Stepanenko, a principal dancer with the company, was named acting artistic director Tuesday.

Filin said he believed that he was attacked because of his work at the ballet company and that investigators had a good chance of identifying his assailant.

‘‘When everything is going well, that may also displease someone,’’ Filin said, when asked whether the attack was planned by someone within the company.

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