MOSCOW A dancer accused of plotting an acid attack on the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director argued with the victim of his over his management style, saying he acted like a king, a Moscow court heard on Tuesday.
The poisonous backstage rivalries that may have led to the January 17 attack were illuminated in court as director Sergei Filin's assistant testified about the arguments at the trial of dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko and two co-defendants.
"He (Dmitrichenko) said ... 'Is this a kingdom now? Are you our king?'," Dilyara Timergazina told the court. "Filin was of course very angry."
Dmitrichenko, 29, who has denied any role in the attack on the 43-year-old Filin, argued with him over roles, she said, and objected to his plan to punish members of the ballet corps who did not attend morning classes by reducing their grant money.
"Dmitrichenko demanded principal roles," Timergazina said. "He also demanded the role of Odette-Odile for the actress Anzhelina Vorontsova, his partner.
"These demands were not fulfilled."
The attack left Filin writhing in agony in the snow and has forced him to have more than 20 operations to try to save his sight and repair the damage to his face.
It also damaged the reputation of one of Russia's leading cultural institutions, revealing the bitter rivalries behind the scenes.
The alleged assailant, Yuri Zarutsky, has told the court he acted alone. The third defendant, Andrei Lipatov, is accused of driving Zarutsky to and from the scene. He pleaded not guilty.
They face up to 12 years in jail if convicted of plotting and staging the attack. But, under Russian law, the term could be lower if the judge rules they were not acting as a group.
Dmitrichenko's friend and ballet dancer Batyr Annadurdiyev, who is a witness in the case and told the court he was with him on the night of the attack, said the defendant had only aired the complaints of other dancers.
"Pasha was a fighter for justice. He is the only one of us, who was not afraid to speak his opinion. The troupe is silent," Annadurdiyev told the court, referring to Dmitrichenko by the diminutive form.
Filin, who had the power to make or break careers in his influential role, has denied accusations of favoritism leveled by Dmitrichenko, saying he spread false rumors about him.
(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Alison Williams)