Helene

Sergei Filin Attacked

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NPR Talk of the Nation has a radio segment interviewing David Remneck of The New Yorker regarding his article "Danse Macabre", lasts about 15 minutes. Interesting stuff about the oligarchs and how their money keeps the ballet afloat, but causes problems of influence and expectations of influence. I didn't know that he edited his article to eliminate the name of a dancer who is gay and gets quoted. The dancer contacted him and begged him passionately to delete his name, because of the increasing homophobia in Russia.

http://www.npr.org/2...-bolshoi-ballet

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Yuri Grigorovich was mentioned here several times, even as someone “knowing which buttons to push (in this case, seeking out a disgruntled dancer) and letting the rest play itself out.”

Grigorovich is not like that. He is a person of an explosive temperament. As soon as he was unhappy, he would snap, tell people off and roar orders. When he was upset with something, it was better to keep out of his way. At the same time his authority was incontestable and he enjoyed overwhelming and genuine respect in the company. Even when he appears at the Bolshoi now, just a few times a year, the atmosphere there changes. People start informing each other: ‘Grig is in the theatre today’, and some dancers admit that they do their class more conscientiously.

Here is some information on what Grigorovich was up to in recent months.

Very soon after the opening night of ‘Ivan the Terrible’ in November 2012 the choreographer was taken ill. Doctors discovered that he had 90% constriction of the inner surface of the carotid artery, which could lead to severe paralysis or may be death. On the 5th of December, he was operated at the clinic of the First Moscow State Medical University. http://www.rg.ru/201...ovich-site.html

The 2nd of January 2013 saw his 86th birthday. He went to recuperate after the operation to Anapa, a Black Sea resort.

On the 3rd of March ITAR-TASS reported that Grigorovich did casting and began work on his production of ‘Coppelia’ at his ballet theatre in Krasnodar, in the south of Russia: http://www.itar-tass...culture&i=39650

As long as I saw and remember Grig’s rise and reign in Russian ballet it would be impossible for me to imagine him pushing any dancer, especially the dancer he has chosen in the corps and fostered and promoted to the top roles, towards criminal actions.

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solo, your comments lead me to believe that the impetus for the attack was not necessarily "Grig", but disgruntled people (or a person) within the current Bolshoi Theatre. The lack of money seems to be the motivator. But does Mr Filin control the purse strings? I thought that responsibility lays with the general director, Mr. Iksanov.

Can anyone enlighten us with the pay structure at the Bolshoi? Compare it to a "Western" company's salary and payment structure?

How does this lifetime tenure work? Is it only for principals? Or also soloists and corps dancers? How much is the stipend after they retire from performances? How do the apartment assignments work? Are they lifelong?

This money issue seems to indicate to me that the workers at the Bolshoi don't have a functioning union that can adequately bargain for them. Yes, this sounds so obvious, but violence isn't going to effect the type of change that Russia needs to help labor interests. I am too cynical about Russia United to believe it would shepherd legislation through the Duma that would help. What are the strike rules in Russia? A strike by the Bolshoi dancers would surely be an international media event.

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All the talk about pay and control over freedom to go abroad and earn guesting income makes me think back to Osipova and Vasiliev leaving the company. Wasn't there something about getting their schedules to work with their guesting obligations overseas and limitations to performing in Moscow? Perhaps they really did get considerably more freedom by leaving the Bolshoi.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDrEm1vT0mg

This text, machine translated, was posted below this video:

<p><span id="result_box" lang="en">With journalists Sergei Filin met in Holland. Under German law, shooting at the clinic banned, so the meeting was held in a room near the hotel.

To this day, is in a German clinic in Aachen Sergei Filin journalists did not communicate. Kept medical secret and surgeons who have operated on him.

"It was much more difficult than one would imagine. Treatment now goes to the very active. My doctors are doing everything possible and impossible. I try to help them in this," - said Sergey Filin.

In the words of Sergei Filin, the doctors did not tell him how long it takes for treatment. Sergei Filin said that the last time he got a lot of messages with wishes for a speedy recovery as the artists of the theater, and from the common people.

"As soon as they tell me:" Sergey, you are free! You can go further, "I assure you, I will once again be in order, I will come back to the Bolshoi Theater," - he promised.

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In the March 18th issue of The New Yorker magazine, there is a long, detailed article about the attack on Filin by David Remnick, a longtime New Yorker writer and possibly on the editorial board (I can't find the masthead just now). Remnick lived in Moscow "in the last years of the Soviet era, when tickets to the Bolshoi were cheap, and I used to go whenever I could...." I just started to read the article, but wanted to post this here so that everyone who is interested can go out and buy a copy while it's still on the newsstands.

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This is a translation of an open letter by employees of the Bolshoi Theater demanding a fair investigation and trial of Pavel Dmitrichenko. It is said to have been signed by more than 300 employees.

It is certainly said to have been signed by more than 300 employees, but in fact the letter (or at least its published version) is anonymous (it's quite ironic that they are calling it an "open letter"). I have not seen any evidence that this number is anywhere close to reality. The article cited above names the following signers: Alexandrova, Allash, Antonicheva, Volchkov, and Tsiskaridze. That's five. Who are the remaining 295+?

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Isn't Remnick the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker?

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It is certainly said to have been signed by more than 300 employees, but in fact the letter (or at least its published version) is anonymous (it's quite ironic that they are calling it an "open letter"). I have not seen any evidence that this number is anywhere close to reality. The article cited above names the following signers: Alexandrova, Allash, Antonicheva, Volchkov, and Tsiskaridze. That's five. Who are the remaining 295+?

Izvestia has published one sheet of signatures, and no doubt this particular one was chosen because it includes Tsiskaridze's. It claims there are 35 more sheets. All of the signatories on the published sheet--Kochkina, Baranov, Kochan, Tsiskaridze, Barichka, Bochkareva, Zhidkov, Zelenko, Oppengeym, Savichev--are members of the ballet company.

http://izvestia.ru/news/546485

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The new "artistic council" that has been put in place seems potentially a victory for the pro-Grigorovich (or anti-Filin) forces in the company -- Ismene Browne has an interesting commentary on her blog.

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Isn't Remnick the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker?

He has been The New Yorker's editor since 1998. It's remarkable he took time off to research and write this Bolshoi piece.

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"The new "artistic council" that has been put in place seems potentially a victory for the pro-Grigorovich (or anti-Filin) forces in the company -- Ismene Browne has an interesting commentary on her blog."

Is there any point to Filin returning to the Bolshoi? It sounds like he doesn't really have much support and the elements that led to him being harrassed and attacked will still be there. On the one hand, I'd hate to see him not return because it would mean that his enemies would win. But on the other hand his personal safety is more important and working for another ballet company might give him the artistic freedom that he doesn't have with the Bolshoi.

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Izvestia has published one sheet of signatures, and no doubt this particular one was chosen because it includes Tsiskaridze's. It claims there are 35 more sheets. All of the signatories on the published sheet--Kochkina, Baranov, Kochan, Tsiskaridze, Barichka, Bochkareva, Zhidkov, Zelenko, Oppengeym, Savichev--are members of the ballet company.

http://izvestia.ru/news/546485

Between the scan of handwritten signatures and the names printed in the article itself, there are 42 names listed. That still is a long way from 300+. A letter from the Bolshoi to the President where the names of the signers come to light little by little---why does this sound so familiar? Another thing that sounds familiar is the President's response, http://vz.ru/news/2013/3/13/624230.html:

Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the President of Russia, said on Wednesday that Vladimir Putin, like all Russians, is following the course of the investigation of the attack on the Bolshoi ballet master Sergey Filin, but the investigation is the prerogative of the investigators, not of the head of state.

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Izvestia has published one sheet of signatures, and no doubt this particular one was chosen because it includes Tsiskaridze's. It claims there are 35 more sheets. All of the signatories on the published sheet--Kochkina, Baranov, Kochan, Tsiskaridze, Barichka, Bochkareva, Zhidkov, Zelenko, Oppengeym, Savichev--are members of the ballet company.

http://izvestia.ru/news/546485

Between the scan of handwritten signatures and the names printed in the article itself, there are 42 names listed. That still is a long way from 300+. A letter from the Bolshoi to the President where the names of the signers come to light little by little---why does this sound so familiar?

It would be more transparent if the press would show us all the signatures. Perhaps we should ask them.

It's possible that the majority of signatories came from the ranks of the corps, as they do constitute the bulk of the Bolshoi Ballet, and that the press assumed that these names would not mean anything to its readers, so instead they perused the lists for dancers of higher rank and formulated the relevant sentences along the lines of "signatories include People's Artists X, Y and Z" and left everyone else out.

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It's possible that the majority of signatories came from the ranks of the corps, as they do constitute the bulk of the Bolshoi Ballet, and that the press assumed that these names would not mean anything to its readers, so instead they perused the lists for dancers of higher rank and formulated the relevant sentences along the lines of "signatories include People's Artists X, Y and Z" and left everyone else out.

Almost certainly that is the case. Don't forget it wasn't just dancers that signed but also members of the opera, stage hands, and many others on the Bolshoi pay roll. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21766692

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Izvestia reports that there are 36 sheets of signatures. If all the sheets were filled, that would be 360 signatures in total, and since the Bolshoi has 220 dancers, this would necessarily mean that others signed. Perhaps it is significant that the paper reports that one of the signatories is Ruslan Pronin, the company manager and as such a representative of Filin's team. If he sensed that the sentiments of the dancers on this issue were very strong, he might have thought it prudent to show publicly that he sympathized with their concerns.

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I remember reading that this petition was signed by employees of the Bolshoi (meaning not just the dancers).

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Has Lunkina's husband switched film topics yet? I cannot believe the reality tv producers missed out on this! Perhaps, Moscow has come to resemble Chicago in its best film noir inspiration days... We could have a whole new genre... What would one call it?

(unfortunately, just like with Chicago's gangsters, real people are being hurt).

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I hope if convicted everyone involved gets the full 12 years. And I hope that Dmitrichenko doesn't get a lesser sentence because he "only" intended for Filin to be beaten up. If he's able to escape punishment and continue dancing at the Bolshoi (or anywhere else for that matter) then there really is no justice in this world. Or at least in Russia.

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Below is my translation of an interview with a police official published in "Izvestia" on March 15:

http://izvestia.ru/news/546733

There is some legal jargon (e.g., "ochnaya stavka" --- interrogation of two or more suspects or a suspect and a victim in the same room at the same time) that has no equivalent known to me in English, as well as

some slang which is difficult to translate. I tried my best.

The attack against the Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Sergey Filin is the most resonant recent event which made a splash even among people who are far from the ballet world. The head of the Investigative Department of the Moscow Central District Police Alexander Kuligin talked in an interview to "Izvestiya" about Bolshoi artists' attempts to exert pressure on the investigation and about the perpetrators' motives.

Q. Lately, a verbal duel has unfolded between the police and the Bolshoi Theater. Artists collect signatures to support Dmitrichenko and send collective letters to the police. The police is forced to respond. The Penal Code has an article "Exerting pressure on an investigation." Might there be a review related to this?

A. Whether or not there is pressure on this investigation will be clear from how events develop. All these statements are related to the views of the Bolshoi artists, their emotions which overwhelm them as creative individuals. They appeal not only to the justice system, but also to the President and the government. This is an expression of their emotional perception of the situation with the detention of their leading soloist.

Q. The Bolshoi director Gennadiy (sic!) Iksanov stated many times that behind Dmitrichenko there was some puppet-master who organized everything, whereas Dmitrichenko was only a weapon in his hands. What is the position of the investigators regarding this?

A. We do not have data to support the view that somebody pushed and forced Dmitrichenko to commit a crime. Before we conducted the detention operation, we interrogated the victim himself, and Iksanov, and other Bolshoi employees. And, in principle, we built our hypotheses based on Filin's testimony. During the vetting of these hypotheses we arrived at the one and only version.

Q. One of the detainees---previously convicted Yuri Zarutsky---is now attempting to argue that Dmitrichenko and Lipatov were not informed about his plans, that he never took any money from the Bolshoi soloist, and that he found Filin's address and photo and the acid's recipe online.

A. We have all the data that show how stable were the connections among these three persons involved: how they were arranging this beforehand, what their actions were on the day of the attack. This testimony of Zarutsky is simply his method to escape justice, as a person who is well informed about what "weighs" how much. [Translator's note: under Russian law, a group conspiracy entails a longer prison term than acting single-handedly.] We have a large amount of other evidence. It's going to the location. It's video recordings, both from the location of the incident, and from the place where Filin was watched. The data about how his itinerary from the Bolshoi Theater was being tracked, etc. We knew very clearly before the detention who was doing what and who was where. As to the driver not being informed… They didn't come to Filin's house for the first time. He and Zarutsky had conducted a reconnaissance of the area.

Q. But lawyer Sergey Zhorin states that the leading soloist of the Bolshoi Pavel Dmitrichenko was not aware of the attack that was being prepared, and that Yuri Zarutsky, the actual attacker, was acting on his own.

A. There have been joint interrogations conducted with the three suspects. The contradictions that had existed in their testimonies have been eliminated. For that matter, they do not have to say anything, they have this right according to the law.

Q. Lawyers are appealing Lipatov's arrest. Would the investigators, having collected all the necessary information, agree to release him on bail or put him under house arrest?

A. We are not bloodthirsty people. But in this situation anything is possible. One of them is an ex-convict and has already attempted to escape. The second one does not do anything, does not have a job, and has no ties to any particular place. We are not entirely sure that we are not going to lose him tomorrow, that he is not going to leave. At the moment I do not see any grounds for releasing them. Taking the publicity into account, I cannot rule out the possibility that, once free, they will ride the wave of these emotions and start representing themselves as victims of the repressions of the criminal justice system, and claim that we want to frame them for this crime. Since even now, while they are in jail, there is talk of some "big people" who ordered this crime, can you imagine what public heros and abuse victims they will become if they are freed?

Q. Will there be a joint interrogation of Filin and the suspects?

A. This is planned for after Sergey Filin comes back from abroad. Much will depend on the state of his health. However, even now, we can confidently say that Zarutsky committed the attack, and I think that all the forensics, including comparative ones, will show to us everything that's necessary.

Q. Due to the victim being far away, is it possible to conduct some investigative actions using modern communication technology, such as Skype?

A. Unfortunately, the laws do not keep up with the development of technology. Each statement must be signed, and in addition a place of interrogation must be well-defined. If Sergey Filin is situated in Germany, and our investigator is in Moscow, then we would have to put down a neutral zone as the place of interrogation (laughs).

Q. Pavel Dmitrichenko in his testimony talked about Filin's financial transgressions and even crimes---about bribery at the theater, bribes accompanying role assignment and permissions to guest at other theaters. Will this information be checked separately?

A. Yes, this person was displeased by the policy at the theater. From his point of view, these were violations of law. Yes, this is indeed being used during the investigation and is being defined as motives for committing the crime: being dissatisfied with certain practices instituted by the Artistic Director. However, we cannot speak about crimes here yet. These are unofficial statements that we receive. If the company or someone from the Bolshoi thinks that some employees or managers abuse their position, disrupt financial affairs, they have the right to file a complaint which we will then investigate. It is easy to call Filin a swindler. Anyone can say: "Here he is---a thief, steals company's money." If anyone really thinks that---you are welcome to contact the police, there will be a corresponding investigation. And if it reveals violations, the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Q. Dmitrichenko mentioned several times in his testimony that Zarutsky offered him to kill, or "do", or "off" Sergey Filin. Could the charge change from "inflicting grievous bodily harm" to "attempted murder"?

A. Him wanting to kill is probably too much. However, he did offer to heavily beat the victim, up to breaking his bones---they were discussing this. They were discussing with each other different possibilities during the preparation of the crime. But they decided what they decided. Thank God that Dmitrichenko is not such a gangster and did not go for such extreme measures as a murder.

Q. Dmitrichenko is stating that he did not know anything about the acid. What is the opinion of the investigators on this point?

A. The testimony tells us that the direction towards harming victim's health was common. Everybody had the same plan. However, the method was selected by the attacker. This method is quicker, taking into account the fact that the place of the attack is the center of Moscow where there are many people. While being beaten, the victim could have called for help. Furthermore, the guard is located near the place of the incident. This is because they have a guarded parking, elite housing. This entailed such a method of inflicting injury.

Q. During the attempt on Filin, Pavel Dmitrichenko was in the car of his friend and Bolshoi colleague, Batyr Annadurdyev. If one is to believe Dmitrichenko's testimony, they were watching Filin, while Annadurdyev was behind the wheel. How do the investigators classify the actions of this soloist (sic) of the theater?

A. At that moment, Dmitrichenko did not have a car. And he used Batyr to drive him around that day. However, here we have a person who really was not informed about Dmitrichenko's criminal intent.

Q. Might there be a cover-up of a crime here?

A. For this, it would be necessary for Dmitrichenko to tell Batyr: "My friends have committed a crime, they attacked Filin, and now we are going to meet with them and give them money." This hypothesis was checked but was not confirmed.

Q. The person behind the wheel of a car hears his passenger describing Filin's movements to somebody over the phone, follows the direction of his passenger to tail a certain car, knowing what car it is. It would be difficult not to put two and two together, having found out half an hour later about the attempt committed on Filin.

A. In this case we cannot charge him with a cover-up. No one openly told Annadurdyev: "I committed a crime." And Annadurdyev wasn't a witness to this crime or its preparation. Dmitrichenko told Batyr a completely different story. To listen to other people's conversations and to analyze them… Now you and I can understand their significance because we know what they were about.

Q. Even before the case was solved, there was a supposition of some role that Nikolay Tsiskaridze played in what happened. After the detention of the suspects, was Tsiskaridze interrogated again? Were there any suspicions regarding him?

A. At this time, we do not have any grounds to suspect anyone else among the Bolshoi employees. If other circumstances are revealed, the guilty ones will be found and brought to justice.

Q. How did Yuri Zarutsky behave after he was detained, was he trying to deny everything?

A. He realized everything immediately. The detention was not a surprise for him. When they make a film about this crime, they will present everything in an embellished manner. On the contrary, our work is painstaking and tedious---reconstruct the crime little by little, find out who was where at that moment, who was doing what. We carefully compiled all the evidence before the detention. That's why everything was going so slowly. We could have grabbed them immediately, they would have spent a couple of nights in jail and then released.

Q. Dmitrichenko spent all day with the investigators, up to the moment of his detention. Was he nervous, did he show in any way that his was worried?

A. He was not expecting that everyone involved in this crime would be detained. He was not expecting to be face to face with Zarutsky and Lipatov. He realized that his whole criminal design was found out.

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Thank you for taking the time to translate this. It's a nice change from those sometimes nonsensical machine translations from Google. :) Sounds like the police feel they have a very strong case.

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It's possible that the majority of signatories came from the ranks of the corps, as they do constitute the bulk of the Bolshoi Ballet, and that the press assumed that these names would not mean anything to its readers, so instead they perused the lists for dancers of higher rank and formulated the relevant sentences along the lines of "signatories include People's Artists X, Y and Z" and left everyone else out.

Almost certainly that is the case. Don't forget it wasn't just dancers that signed but also members of the opera, stage hands, and many others on the Bolshoi pay roll. http://www.bbc.co.uk...europe-21766692

Besides the President and other officials and the media, the letter is addressed to "Admirers of ballet and theater in Russia and abroad," which includes all of us here on this forum. As far as I am concerned, the letter is (mostly) anonymous, because I have only seen the signatures of ten people, plus the names of 30 or so others that came out in the press. Saying that the press is not interested in who else may have signed the letter is a lame excuse: in this day and age, information can be easily published online without going to the press---that is, if there is any desire to publish it. Clearly, most of the mysterious "300+" signers have no such desire.

In the last letter to the President that came out of the Bolshoi, some of the signatures were reportedly obtained through lies, and at least one signature appeared to be forged. Based on this very recent history, I will remain very skeptical until all the signers come forward, and until there is evidence that they had actually read the letter and meant to sign it.

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Thank you Ilya for the translation. I agree that the status of the "300 signatures" is unclear when they have not been published somewhere -- if only online.

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