The artistic director of Russia's most famous ballet troupe is in hospital with severe chemical burns after an unknown assailant threw acid in his face outside his Moscow home.
The attack on Sergei Filin, of the Bolshoi, is shocking even by the standards of the theatre, where infighting among the troupe has been rife since the Soviet period.
Mr Filin is in a Moscow hospital with burns to his face and eyes. Doctors are working to save his eyesight. The Bolshoi said he might be flown abroad for treatment.
The theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, said yesterday that Mr Filin had been receiving threats for months, as well as having his emails hacked and the tyres on his car slashed.
"He told me he felt like he was on the frontline here," said Mr Iksanov. "I told him that we all feel the same; working in the theatre is hard. We knew about the threats, but nobody could have imagined that they would end so tragically."
Russia's premier opera and ballet theatre has a troubled history, with the intrigue, rivalries and backstabbing behind the scenes a match for any of the tangled plots that adorn its stage.
Mr Filin (42), who was previously a dancer at the theatre, took over as artistic director in 2011. (© Independent News Service)