MOSCOW — A masked man threw acid in the face of Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the legendary Bolshoi Ballet, on Thursday night, leaving him with third-degree burns and threatening his eyesight, Bolshoi officials said Friday.
The attack followed a series of anonymous threats to Filin, 42, a dancer who rose through the ranks of the world’s largest ballet company.
Investigators have not ruled out a dispute over money or property, but are focusing on the theory that Filin was targeted because of his work, a police spokesman said.
As dancers kept an overnight vigil at the burn unit where he is being treated, his colleagues said they suspected professional jealousy was behind the attack. In recent weeks, his tires were punctured and his car scratched, and his cellphones and personal e-mail account were hacked, his associates have said.
A relative offered to supply Filin with a bodyguard, but Filin refused because he did not believe the threats would lead to violence, said Dilyara Timergazina, his assistant.
Katerina Novikova, the Bolshoi’s spokeswoman, said Filin was opening the gate to his home when a masked man called his name and threw the contents of a bottle in his face. After the attack he was able to see out of one eye but not the other, Timergazina said.
An official at the theater told Interfax that he would be sent abroad, probably to Germany or Israel, for treatment. Doctors have said his recovery may take as long as six months.