Bolshoi ballerina says she fears for her safety

AP News
Posted: Jan 30, 2013 10:38 AM
Bolshoi ballerina says she fears for her safety

MOSCOW (AP) — A leading ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet says she wants to stay in Canada after receiving threats — a move that follows an acid attack on the dance troupe's ballet chief and highlights tensions at the famed theater.

Svetlana Lunkina, 33, has told the Russian daily Izvestia that she asked the Bolshoi to extend her leave as she fears returning to Russia. Lunkina's statement came two weeks after the attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, who was badly burned when an unidentified masked assailant threw sulphuric acid in his face.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova confirmed Wednesday to The Associated Press that the theater had accepted Lunkina's request to extend her leave, but made no further comment.

The ballerina said she was scared to hear about the attack on Filin, who has undergone several surgeries to save his eyesight and treat severe burns on his face.

"I feel a strong compassion for his family," Lunkina said. "I hope they will find those who committed that crime."

She admitted that her ties with Filin were strained, saying that he recently told the company that "Lunkina will not come back here," but added that she still hopes to return to the Bolshoi.

Lunkina said the threats she received were linked to a conflict between her husband and a business partner over a movie about Mathilde Kschessinskaya, a Russian prima ballerina famous for both her talent as a dancer and for her liaison with Russia's last czar, Nicholas II.

She said her husband, Vladislav Moskalyov, had a falling out with Vladimir Vinokur, who heads the Vinokur Foundation for Arts and Culture. The ballerina said she had received threats from the foundation, which also had sent letters to the Bolshoi and to other theaters which she said aimed to smear her reputation. She also said her Facebook account was hacked.

"I think we must seriously respond to the threats," Lunkina said. "These people have no right to meddle in our private life or my professional activities."

Vinokur, who had a successful career as a comedian during the Soviet times, chose not to address Lunkina's claims in an interview Wednesday with the Russian News Service radio.

Instead he told the radio that Lunkina's husband had a conflict with Filin and had threatened the ballet chief. He did not address the alleged conflict between himself and Moskalyov.

Lunkina and her husband couldn't immediately be reached to comment on Vinokur's claims.