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Trial day 11: Hitman testifies (it’s grisly)

Trial day 10: Dmitrichenko, Tsiskaridze, Vorontsova testify

Trial day 9: Dmitrichenko testifies

28 NOV 13    Nikolai Tsiskaridze’s character attack on Filin on Monday yesterday generated a furious response by Bolshoi dancers and coaches, who went to court yesterday to demand to defend the stricken artistic director against the “filth” uttered by their former star colleague Tsiskaridze (who is now the Minister of Culture’s appointee to head the Vaganova School of Russian Ballet, Russia’s most famous ballet school).

In polar contrast to the irascible, explosive and insulting person described on Monday by Tsiskaridze, Angelina Vorontsova (girlfriend of the accused man and Tsiskaridze pupil) and Ruslan Pronin, yesterday’s witnesses - including prominent star dancers Evgenia Obraztsova, Olga Smirnova and Artëm Ovcharenko - said Filin was a polite, calm man who was not capable of boorishness.

Hostile testimony about Tsiskaridze himself came from the senior coach Marina Kondratieva, who said he had almost been dismissed after he insulted all the Bolshoi coaches during a television broadcast, and had been made to apologise to them all later.

She also accused Dmitrichenko of nastiness and spite in smearing the  rise of young ballerina Olga Smirnova as being due to anything other than her talent. Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend Angelina Vorontsova, she said, was not good enough for leading roles yet (Vorontsova left the Bolshoi and is now a principal at the Mikhailovsky Ballet).

Dancer Denis Medvedev said Tsiskaridze was the only provocateur in the company and had almost wrecked Filin’s family.

Due to the scattered and very selective pickings of this important day of the trial by the Russian press (each of whom has tended to home in on one or two, but not all the witnesses) it has taken time to put together a complete report. This may also explain the overwhelming and regrettable silence about it from foreign newspapers who hoovered up the Tsiskaridze performance on Monday.

Here are the witness reports that I’ve found (sources labelled).

Olga Smirnova

[Translation of Moskovskiy Komsomolets] - Among the 10 witnesses was the ballerina Olga Smirnova, whom Pavel Dmitrichenko has accused of having a relationship with her artistic director, Filin. Apparently this was so that she should quickly progress up the career ladder - she is 22 and was hired into the company only two years ago by Filin. On the evening of the attack they were both at the Moscow Art Theatre for the 150th anniversary Stanislavsky gala. Afterwards Filin drove her home.

The defence lawyer [unnamed] asked her: “Is it accepted that Filin would go to the theatre with an employee and then take them home?”

“He is a well-bred man, and even you would not leave a young woman along in the cold,” she replied, causing laughter in the audience.

[Via RAPSI] Smirnova said Filin was “a calm, non-confrontational person who would never abuse someone in public”.

Marina Kondratieva

[Translation Moskovskiy Komsomolets] - All the witnesses in general spoke about the intelligence and correct conduct of the artistic director, though granted they were being called on his behalf. In particular, Marina Kondratieva, one of the senior coaches at the Bolshoi, said that she had known Filin since his first days in ballet.

For him to have a personal relationship with Smirnova was improbable, and the ballerina’s success was due to her great talent. In fact Kondratieva herself had gone with Filin to the graduate exams after which Olga was invited to join the Bolshoi.

“It was marvellous to see her, she made the head spin. But Dmitrichenko had the impudence or innate spite to say that the girl got roles because of some relationship with Filin.  She got married last September. This is such filth to implicate her in this story.”

To the question whether Angelina Vorontsova, whom Dmitrichenko claimed Filin had refused the lead in Swan Lake, could dance the role, Kondratieva said that she could not judge as she had not seen her rehearsing it. But she remembered that the dancer danced Don Quixote “not in the best way”, and that she was in “sluggish physical shape”.

But on the question of Nikolai Tsiskaridze, the coach said, without hiding her indignation, “Tsiskaridze generally never attended meetings. He considered this beneath his dignity. We are almost all honoured artists [Russia’s specially awarded individuals] and at one broadcast/transmission/programme he called all the teachers mongrels and that he would shoot them all down.

“He apologised later, when we were requested to sign a letter to the general director asking for him to be dismissed. We did not sign the letter and only then did he come to each of us and apologise.

Artëm Ovcharenko

ITAR-TASS reports that Ovcharenko, a principal dancer, described Dmitrichenko as a man who had quarrelled with previous artistic directors, driven by a sense of justice, wanting transparent procedures and standing up whenever he felt a dancer had a grievance.

Ovcharenko said he had heard Filin mention his conflicts with Dmitrichenko. “I can’t say anything about it because I was never there in any of the conversations or situations. I heard about it, but it was only what people said, it was gossip,” said Ovcharenko. When the judge asked, “Maybe you heard something from other dancers?” he replied: “You want me to tell you rumours? I won’t do that.”

His rebuttal of the doubts that Tsiskaridze among others expressed about Filin’s injuries was reported by Business FM.

[Translation] - Bolshoi principal dancer Artëm Ovcharenko has testified in court that Sergei Filin, whose face was splashed with acid, is not simulating his eyesight problems and is not using events as PR for himself.

He told Meshchansky Court that he visited the victim in hospital soon after the attack. He said he was able to get into the ward to see Filin with the help of his sister, who represented Ovcharenko as the sick man’s brother.

Filin’s lawyer Tatyana Stukalova asked him whether it was believed within the company that the artistic director was pretending, and in fact could see perfectly well. Ovcharenko answered: “I saw a man who was sitting, trembling, and his eyes were flowing with crimson liquid and he was holding a dark red napkin. I want to ask: Was this a show put on to impress me alone?”

The witness stated that he did not know whether the liquid that had been splashed over Filin’s face was sulphuric acid, and what percentage strength it was, but “it was painful to look at” Filin. He said obviously Filin had been splashed with something that was “not water”.

He said when Filin returned to work in the theatre, he wore dark glasses in his office. “The left eye is getting better but the right one, he says it’s feels like there is a bag over his head and he is looking through something. He doesn’t even have eyelashes on that eye. This is absolutely not PR.”

Denis Medvedev

[Translation of legal news service RAPSI] - Nikolai Tsiskaridze was the only person who occupied himself by causing provocation inside the Bolshoi Theatre, said Bolshoi ballet soloist Denis Medvedev.

In his own earlier deposition [on Monday] Tsiskaridze advanced a similar accusation at Sergei Filin, the company’s artistic director.

Medvedev denied this: "The only provocateur in the theatre was Tsiskaridze himself.” He added that he decided to give evidence in the trial precisely because of what Tsiskaridze had said in court. “Tsiskaridze poured out so much filth that we all had to come,” he said.

Filin’s lawyers wanted to know the chracter of relations between Filin and Tsiskaridze, but Judge Elena Maximova banned the question as having no bearing on the case. What mattered was the relations between Filin and the accused Pavel Dmitrichenko, not Tsiskaridze. However, Medvedev managed to say that Tsiskaridze “almost wrecked Filin’s family”, though he could not explain further as the judge prevented him going on.

Semyon Chudin

[RAPSI] The principal dancers Evgenia Obraztsova and Semyon Chudin also denied that Filin was capable of "boorish and offensive behaviour” to his subordinates. They could add nothing specific about any conflict between Dmitrichenko and Filin, and Dmitrichenko’s claims in court about Filin’s professional conduct or handling of other dancers’ professional lives.

Interfax (news agency) reported that Chudin said: “The artistic director has the right to decide who will play a role. I have worked a long time in the West, and for me the artistic director decides everything.”

Alexander Petukhov

[RAPSI] Coach and choreographer Alexander Petukhov said, “In all the 30 years I have known Sergei Filin, I have never once seen him be insulting about someone, or say something bad either to his face or behind his back.”

Trial day 11: stars defend Filin, attack Tsiskaridze

"I planned to use Dmitrichenko to get a little gas supply and I wouldn’t be refused. I wanted to get my daughter into ballet school"

Yuri Zarutsky in court (photo MK/ Gennady Cherkasov)