Pavel Dmitrichenko
Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko has confessed an acid attack on the theatre’s ballet chief Sergei Filin (Reuters)

A leading soloist in the Russian Bolshoi Ballet has admitted he planned the acid attack which seriously injured the company's artistic director Sergei Filin.

Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, who recently played the leading role in the Bolshoi's production of Ivan the Terrible, was arrested with two alleged accomplices in connection with the 17 January attack.

"I organised that attack but not to the extent that it occurred," Dmitrichenko told police in an interview which was recorded and broadcast on Russian television.

Police believe 35-year-old Yuri Zarutsky, one of the two men arrested alongside Dmitrichenko, was the person who perpetrated the assault.

Officers suspect that Zarutsky waited for Filin near the gates of his building, and, as the former dancer passed by, called his name before splashing the acid. It is thought Zarutsky then fled the scene in a vehicle driven by the third suspect, Andrei Lipatov.

Along with Dmitrichenko, Lipatov and Zarutsky have both confessed to taking part in the attack.

Svetlana Kokotova of the Moscow police said Dmitrichenko harboured "personal enmity" against Filin, "based on his professional activity."

Filin suffered from severe burns to his eyes and face, for which he is undergoing treatment in Germany.

A hospital source told The Times Filin was "relived but not surprised" by Dmitrichenko's arrest.

The director has always maintained that he knows who carried the attack, but refused to identify the culprit so as not to disrupt the investigation.

Intrigue and in-fighting

The scandal revealed a world of in-fighting and jealousy behind the curtains of Russia's most famous ballet.

Some of Filin's colleagues claimed the director could have been punished for preferring some dancers over others for leading roles.

Dmitrichenko joined the theatre in 2002 and has since had a meteoric career, playing several major parts in recent years.

He was arrested during a police raid on the flat where he was staying with his girlfriend Anzhelina Vorontsova, also a Bolshoi soloist dancer.

According to Russia's state Channel One television, Vorontsova was known to have been at odds with Filin.

Vorontsova was coached by the Bolshoi's leading dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who has been accused by the theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, of also being involved in the plot to disfigure Filin.

Tsiskaridze has strongly denied the accusations. The three men arrested have not yet been formally charged.

Sergei Filin Bolshoi
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, as he leaves a Moscow hospital accompanied by his wife Maria after an acid attack (Reuters)