Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet director victim to a heinous acid attack in downtown Moscow last week, says he believes the assault had something to do with his role in the prestigious ballet company. A mystery assailant wearing a mask threw sulphuric acid in Filin's face late on Thursday as he was getting out of his car near his home in the downtown area of the capital.

The 42-year-old suffered third-degree burns and extensive damage to his eyes, which were operated on, on Friday (January 18, 2013). Doctors say he will not lose his eyesight as initially feared but will require plastic surgery and several months of treatment. Filin has received multiple threats by phone before the attack and afterwards told the daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, "I associate what happened with my work. I have provoked an aggression in somebody. Sooner or later this aggression was to take the shape of concrete action." The director noted that the motive for the attack likely had to do with the way he assigns roles to dancers in his lauded Bolshoi productions. Competition for roles has always been intense, with performances often finding crushed glass in their shoes during Soviet Times. "But none of us had a desire to pour another person with sulfuric acid," he said. "I don't know who could have done it but I am sure there are such people. If this crime remains unsolved I don't even know what to believe in then." Could the attack have been commissioned by a disillusioned dancer? 

The Bolshoi's star dancer Galina Stepanenko will be the ballet's artistic chief in Filin's absence. "She is valued and respected [by the company]," said the theatre's general director Anatoly Iksanov.