Ex-star Bolshoi dancer Tsiskaridze's testifies in acid attack trial - RAPSI live
MOSCOW, November 22 (RAPSI) - RAPSI is broadcasting live the testimony of former top Bolshoi Ballet dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, as well as the continued testimony of former leading soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, in the trial of acid attack that left Bolshoi Artistic Director Sergei Filin with third degree burns to his face and eyes. The hearing is taking place at Moscow's Meschansky District Court, starting at 14:00 Moscow time.
19:58 That's all we have for you today! It has been an eventful one - hearing the words of some of the most revered dancers in Russia - in the context of an otherwise grisly criminal case. Anyway, stay tuned to RAPSI for all things Russian ballet-law related, and stay tuned for the next round of live trial coverage! Enjoy your evenings, readers!
19:52 The questioning of Vorontsova is complete. She wishes to remain in the courtroom though, where she's seated across from Dmitrichenko.
19:50 The ballerina says that she only knows Zarutsky from the media, and hasn't seen him in real life.
19:45 Filin's representatives continue to question her: did Dmitrichenko talk about his participation in the crime? Vorontsova says that she learned everything she knows about the attack from TV, where she "saw his haggard face."
19:43 Filin's representatives ask who initiated Vorontsova's arrival in Moscow. She says that it was something of a general initiative, but others in the court room press her to admit that Filin helped her secure a room.
19:42 Vorontsova confirms the affidavit in part, saying that it's a condensed version.
19:40 Some of the journalists are bickering with Filin's representatives.
19:39 The reason given: "Today the witness stated that Filin asked her to completely abandon Tsiskaridze, and during the investigation she talked about having to choose a female teacher." Vorontsova objects that it's the same thing. Dmitrichenko lauchs and opposes a read-out of the written materials. All the defense attorneys are against the move to, but the judge begins to summarize the written evidence.
19:35 The prosecutor asks to turn to the written record, saying that there are fundamental differences.
19:32 Filin asked Vorontsova to clear out of her room when she decided to join the Bolshoi. Vorontsova believes that this was motivated by resentment.
19:28 She says that on January 17 [the day of the attack] Dmitrichenko started to head out of town, and adds that he frequently lent money to people.
19:25 The ballerina calls shenanigans on the claim that Dmitrichenko had gone to Filin asking that he set her up with roles. Filin called Vorontsova into his office and told her that the contract with Tsiskaridze would soon expire, and that she would thus need to choose a different teacher. Vorontsova asked why she was put in such a situation.
19:23 She says that Dmitrichenko was obsessed with ballet, investing his whole soul into it.
19:22 A few words about Dmitrichenko - he's an ambitious, kind, and non-aggressive man.
19:20 She then explains that of course she refused to part ways with Tsiskaridze. She goes on to add that she had wanted to go on the ballet's US tour. She says, "I asked [Filin] if I could go, and he said that he would settle the question, but then, it appears that he said that I did not want to go."
19:14 She explains that things went downhill for her after Filin took over as artistic director at the Bolshoi. For example, she was removed from the Parisian tour, and was told to abandon her teacher Tsiskaridze.
19:10 She recalls how she was discovered by Filin in the city of Voronezh at the age of 16, and was invited to work at the Stanislavsky Theater, but she had to delay for a year. Then Filin invited her to move to Moscow and finish her schools tudies in the capital city. And she did it. He gave her a room in an apartment, she continues.
19:08 Angelina describes the many prizes, honors, and accolades she has won in her ballet career.
19:06 "I started working at the Bolshoi Theater, and then we had a close relationship," she says. She came to the Bolshoi in 2009, but didn't communicate with Dmitrichenko during the first year, she adds. When asked about the conflicts between Dmitrichenko and Filin, she says that Pavel frequently defended the dancers.
19:03 About the witness: Angelina Vorontsova is the prima ballerina for the Mikhailovsky Theater, and worked at the Bolshoi for a period. She is familiar with Dmitrichenko.
19:01 Vorontsova has taken the stand. She's wearing a short dress, and Dmitrichenko is smiling. But let's get down to business.
18:59 The witness says that he did not witness any conflicts between Tsiskaridze and Filin. The witness is finished.
18:59 Filin's representatives ask the witness about the duties of the artistic director, but the witness doesn't have much to say about the matter.
18:52 Andrei Uvarov repeats what has been said before about Dmitrichenko in this courthouse - he is a talented artist, not aggressive or confrontational - and all artists are emotional. He has known Filin for about 30 years.
18:50 We thought that Angelina Vorontsova would be up next, but it appears that Stanislavsky Theater teacher Andrei Uvarov has taken the stand.
18:47 As Tsiskaridze wraps up, no one has any questions for him. I suppose there's nothing more to add, so he leaves the stand.
18:43 "Sergei [Filin] and his hysterics - he loves to mimic people. As an artist, he is very dear to me. I have never seen a better Romeo," Tsiskaridze tells us. But the moment Filin gained power over the dancers, we are told, his first announcement was that from now on he should be referred to with the formal [Russian] you, or by his full formal name.
18:38 When asked if Filin hindered Dmitrichenko's performances, Tsiskaridze says no - because he had been brought in by Yuri Grigorevich. Tsikaridze describes the conflict between Dmitrichenko and Filin as work-related, rather than personal.
18:34 When people pour acid, there must be something a bit wrong with them," Tsiskaridze tells us.
18:33 "When I heard about the acid attack, I was in shock. But when I saw him on TV, my attitude changed," he says.
18:32 Filin's representatives ask if Tsiskaridze's attitude toward Filin changed after he learned that he was a suspect in the case. No, Tsiskaridze tells us, - he just doesn't speak with Filin.
18:27 Of Angelina's situation, Tsiskaridze says, "I was very excited for her destiny. When your children are bullied - it's very painful."
18:25 Just for your information, about the Mikhailovsky Theater, Angelina's stomping grounds, it was opened in 1833 by decree of the emperor Nikolai I. It was named by the younger son of Pavel I - prince Mikhail and placed at his residence. Originally is acted for the emperor's family and its close circle.
18:24 Vorontsova had previously worked at the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg, where she had been a prima ballerina. She was brought to the Bolshoi because of Tsiskaridze. Her status at the Bolshoi allowed her to dance the leading roles, but once Filin took over - the number of such roles declined. Angelina "never wavered, and she could have danced anything," he says.
18:18 Tsiskaridze mentions the letter in support of Dmitrichenko that was signed by hundreds of dancers attesting to his innocence.
18:17 Tsiskaridze tells us that Pavel met Angelina with Nikolai after a performance. This was a shock for Tsiskaridze as Dmitrichenko had been married to a mutual friend. Pavel says that they had divorced a month earlier. Tsiskaridze says that he worried at the time that this would only increase Angelina's problems in the theater, as she was already having trouble with Filin. Apparently everyone in the theater knew that if Dmitrichenko ever wanted to marry Angelina, she would not dance.
18:12 Tsiskaridze is now moving on to the relationship between Dmitrichenko and Vorontsova. From the outside this may look like an incredibly digressive testimony - but it's not. Everything is developing cohesively, dramatically.
18:10 Tsiskaridze says that he has known Filin since childhood, and that he is a brilliant dancer.
18:07 In response, Tsiskaridze answered that Vorontsova was a talented dancer, and that Filin was wrong. The lawyer asks if Vorontsova danced in Swan Lake. Tsiskaridze says he didn't request this, and he isn't aware that Dmitrichenko did either.
18:05 Tsiskaridze recalls how Filin said about Vorontsova that she was "plus-sized" and advised her to get pregnant and then get an abortion.
18:02 Tsiskaridze notes his surprise with the fact that he was one of the first to be questioned in connection with the attack. The investigators had initially claimed that they were starting by interviewing the prima dancers, and with the letter "Ts," but then eventually they admitted that Filin simply suspected Tsiskaridze, he tells the court.
17:59 Attributing his actions to cockiness and hysterics, Tsiskaridze says that Filin demanded an explanation, and then demanded Sanadze's dismissal, and sought for Tsikaridze's students to renounce their teacher.
17:57 We're back to the Veronika Sanadze incident. Tsiskaridze says that Filin invited him (Tsiskaridze) to dance in Giselle. He had to miss an orchestral rehearsal because he was otherwise engaged, and told this to Sanadze.
17:55 Filin promoted other dancers, we're told, but still Dmitirichenko secured the role. Tsiskaridze says Filin had leverage in giving Dmitrichenko the role, but he used it to prevent him from getting it.
17:54 Tsiskaridze explains that there are two people involved: the artistic director and the relevant choreographer. In the case of Dmitrichenko, he was chosen by Yuri Grigorovich - and the artistic director couldn't argue.
17:52 Tsiskaridze always spoke about Dmitrichenko - how he was a promising dancer with good statistics. A lawyer interrupts to ask how dancers were chosen for given roles.
17:48 Tsiskaridze goes on to explain that Dmitrichenko was a very talented young man. The two starred in many ballets together. In general, Tsiskaridze would play the good guy and Dmitrichenko would play the bad guy - like the Nutcracker and the Rat King, respectively.
17:46 Before that he had seen the defendant at the academy, and he only recognizes the other defendants from TV. Tsiskaridze spent 21 years at the Bolshoi and has known Filin since 1987. He met "Pasha" (Pavel Dmitrichenko) in 2004, when he became a student.
17:43 He is standing at the podium somewhat prosaically - standing in third position. He explains that he and Dmitrichenko worked together at the Bolshoi.
17:42 Sadly, we don't have a fresh photo for you. But we reassure you, Tsiskaridze is gorgeous as always.
17:41 Tsiskaridze takes the stand. Just because, his birthday is December 31.
17:40 The judge wonders why Dmitrichenko didn't tell investigators that he was scared for his girlfriend Angelina Vorontsova and his family. Recall on Friday, Dmitrichenko said that after the attack Zarutsky told him, "I'll do the same to your girl and your family." To this, Dmitrichenko says that he didn't know where Zarutsky was at the time. Odd answer. But hey! Tsiskaridze's here and the questioning of Dmitrichenko has wrapped!
17:35 Dmitrichenko says that he didn't provide the information attributed to him in the written records, and is prepared only to confirm those testimonies that have been captured on film.
17:32 Dmitrichenko says that if he had such a wild impulse, he "would have beaten him up every day," but there were no such consuming desires. Rather, Zarutsky was there with his intrusive proposals.
17:30 Sorry - to be more precise, the question was: "Why didn't you beat him up like a man?"
17:28 A bit of (relevant) gossip - Dmitrichenko is 29, and Filin is 43. So - Filin's representatives want to know - why wouldn't Dmitrichenko have just carried out the allegedly sought-after beating himself?
17:26 Filin's representatives then ask if he is physically well prepared, to which he answers - if we're speaking of ballet, yes.
17:24 Dmitrichenko says that he is prepared to "do anything" to help Filin move on from the attack, and thus he recognizes the validity of Filin's civil lawsuit.
17:21 Dmitirichenko says that he didn't know that Zarutsky had a conviction, and was not looking around Filin's house for cameras.
17:17 The judge asks Dmitrichenko, whether he realised that employing Zarutsky even to "smooth things over" with Filin was punishable by law. Dmitrichenko says that he, in fact, didn't realize that.
17:11 Dmitrichenko says the investigators suggested naming Nikolai Tsiskaridze and Ruslan Pronin as the masterminds of the attack.
17:09 The prosecutor is interested in the differences of the amount of money Dmitrichenko allegedly gave Zarutsky. The accused says it was 60,000 rubles, and that it was a loan. The judge then asks Dmitrichenko if he was read his rights before the questioning. Dmitrichenko can't recall.
17:00 Prosecutor asks wheter everything transpired as it was described by the protocol. Dmitrichenko points to minor differences, saying that he signed the first protocol where he admits guilt without even looking at it.
16:59 Dmitrichenko moves for his entire testimony to be read, and asks the court to show the video. The judge says next time - there are still 4 witnesses top be questioned, including Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
16:58 This cocludes the protocols' reading.
16:55 "Got the f**ker," we hear again, as the judge reads out the relevant portion of Dmitrichenko's testimony.
16:54 One thing that's kind of interesting - Lipatov always seems to be seated in between Dmitrichenko and Zarutsky in the enclosed area for the defendants in the courtroom.
16:50 It seems that at the moment we have nothing new to report - lots of the same details being repeated again in this protocol - expecially revolving around that 50,000 rubles figure, and whether that was in the form of cash or debt or what.
16:40 The prosecutor has suggested that we should read another piece of written evidence, citing contradictions. There aren't any objections.
16:37 The accused have returned to the courtroom - so we should be ready to continue.
16:35 Former director of the Bolshoi Ballet Ruslan Pronin has been spotted in the corridor. He's not supposed to testify until Wednesday, but as we saw Friday - anything's possible.
16:23 Prosecutors have requested a ten-minute break. Stay close!
16:22 Another protocol says that Dmitrichenko denies having negotiated with Lipatov, Zarutsky, or anyone - and that he denied guilt in full.
16:22 We apologize for the present lack of information to report and encourage you to have heart - new information will be coming soon. In the meantime, check out this picture of Dmitrichenko dancing.
16:12 When Dmitrichenko got into Lipatov's car, he asked Zarutsky how everything went, to which Zarutsky responded "got the f**ker."
16:10 All questions about Filin were addressed to Zarutsky. Dmitrichenko doesn't know whether Zarutsky shared any details of the plan with Lipatov.
16:08 We turn to the minutes of the cross examination between Dmitrichenko and Lipatov.
16:07 According to the written materials, Dmitrichenko pleaded guilty. He then claimed in the materials that he hadn't intended for the attack to involve acid - he just wanted Filin to get punched in the nose, in order to instill a bit of fear and encourage Filin to revise his views on his interactions with certain dancers.
16:02 That night Dmitrichenko learned that there had been some kind of attack on Filin via a telephone call between Angelina and Tsiskaridze.
16:01 Zarutsky then warned that Filin would return home in a few minutes.
15:56 So far no differences: on January 17, Dmitrichenko left with Batyr Annadurdyev and headed out of town. Leaving the theater, Dmitrichenko saw Filin, and reported this via telephone to Zarutsky.
15:53 Recall that based on the affidavits, we understand that Dmitrichenko offered Zarutsky 50,000 rubles to beat up Filin.
15:52 Dmitrichenko moves to watch the video. The judge will consider the request, but first the statements and cross-examination will be read.
15:47 The prosecutor asks for Dmitrichenko's written statement, citing strong differences. There are no objections to this.
15:45 He says that he didn't follow Filin on the 17th of January, but that he called Zarutsky and told him that he had seen Filin's car, and that the latter should be home soon. Dmitrichenko explains his actions in terms of having "wanted to hit him."
15:43 The prosecutor asks whether there was a proposal for Zarutsky to kill Filin, to which Dmitrichenko answers in the negative.
15:40 Dmitrichnko doesn't give a clear answer to the question, but says that if he had 10 million rubles, and Filin needed money, he would donate it.
15:38 Representatives of Filin ask about the sums sought in damages, including 508,000 rubles ($15,703) in pecuniary damages, and 3 million rubles ($92,733) sought in moral damages. They ask whether Dmitrichenko agrees to these amounts.
15:36 Dmitrichenko claims that in general, he played no role in the planning of the attack.
15:34 He says that he has no claims against the Interior Ministry officials, but has a claim against an investigator who, for example, allegedly said that he had turned himself in - even though that wasn't true.
15:31 Dmitrichenko acknowledges that his detention was a very dark time, but notes that he doesn't want to recall the details and nuance of this period.
15:29 In general, Dmitrichenko's testimony today is playing out much like it did Friday. Meanwhile, anticipation in the room is on the rise as Tsiskaridze's moment behind the stand approaches. Here's a video clip of Tsiskaridze and Angelina, again - definitely not from today.
15:27 He adds that he never had Lipatov's (the accused driver's) phone number.
15:27 Dmitrichenko is interested, by the way, in whether the investigators saw motive as a revenge according to the case materials. The investigator doesn't respond to the question.
15:25 Dmitrichenko says that he did not ask Filin for anything in connection with Vorontsova, and not because it would've been fruitless, but because an artist decided for himself when to dance and what his abilities are.
15:22 Dmitrichenko says - and we apologize, and take no responsibility for this quote - "their faces were horrible, like candles."
15:18 Dmitrichenko recalls that after having learned that Filin was attacked - he rushed to the internet to learn more about the incident. He read about and looked at various pictures of people who had been victimized by acid attacks.
15:15 And now we're moving to the issue of Dmitrichenko's relationship with the man accused of actually carrying out the acid attack, Zarutsky. We heard quite a bit about Dmitrichenko's thoughts on the matter Friday. He described Zarutsky as a guy who loved to talk, even to the point of being perhaps a bit intrusive.
15:12 And now back to the grants commission - Dmitrichenko describes Filin's decision to grant money to certain artists who were not in the performances. Filin apparently said that the money was being extended to artists who left their previous jobs for the Bolshoi. Dmitrichenko said Filin should pay out of his own pocket, as this area wasn't regulated.
15:07 Dmitrichenko recalls how Filin at times would call an artist into his office and grill the person for three hours at a stretch.
15:05 The Sanadze conflict has featured heavily during these proceedings. Here's a quote from Friday's hearing where Sanadze herself testified on the conflict: Sanadze's version: Nikolai Tsiskaridze didn't show up for a rehearsal of Giselle. Filin asked if she knew what the deal was. She said that she knew about it, at which point Filin demanded that she write a statement on the matter. She's pretty sure she cried. A little time passed, and then Filin apologized to her - admitting that he'd gotten a bit excited.
15:00 Dmitrichenko says that the requirement that all artists should attend every class was unncesessary and often led to injury. We're now moving onto Filin's conflict with Veronica Sanadze.
14:57 While we have a moment, we’d like to take a second to clear the air about that bit at 14:40 where the judge said, "Don't write about the proceedings live." The thing is, the Supreme Court, as well as Russian media law, have provided that those present in courtrooms have the right to conduct audio recordings and written transcriptions as court proceedings are conducted, granted the session is held in an open court – not behind closed doors. On the other hand, photography, video recordings, and filming are only allowed with the permission of the officer presiding over a given court hearing.
14:55 Take a look at the resident guard dog.
14:54 Filin interrupted a rehearsal, Dmitrichenko tells us, and started saying things about wages, layoffs, and then the whole bit about people with special needs as replacements. Dmitrichenko says that he stood up for his colleagues – asking why he would say such things. According to him, Dmitrichenko’s name was removed from the posters for the upcoming ballet as a result.
14:49 The lawyers go on to question him about an incident on stage that has been brought up several times before, wherein Filin allegedly told a group of dancers that if they were slacking off, he would replace them with people with special needs, who would apparently do a better job than them.
14:46 He again mentions his gratitude to Yuri Grigorovich.
14:45 Dmitrichenko recalls that he spent six years dancing on the corps de ballet, before becoming a soloist. He notes that he didn’t ask Filin for this promotion, or for anything for that matter.
14:41 Meanwhile, Dmitrichenko's lawyers have begun questioning him.
14:40 "Don't write about the proceedings live," the judge tells us.
14:33 Prosecutors are requesting a ban on the use of electronic devices by the media, all because a broadcast was conducted at Friday's hearing. Guess who ran it....
14:30 Today Andrei Lipatov's defense attorney Sergey Zhorin is absent, but there is a second lawyer so the hearing's good to go. No one is worried about oppositn this point.
14:25 Filin's representatives are not very happy with the fact that the trial is being broadcasted and suggests the idea of banning it. We unofficially oppose the motion and carry on. Judge Elena Maksimova opens the hearing - and we're off.
14:22 The accused have been led in. We're starting!
14:20 The accused have arrived - so we should be ready to go very soon. Meanwhile - to make you feel better about the fact that we can't send you fresh photos of Tsiskaridze and Angelina at the moment, here's one that is definitely not from today of Dmitrichenko and Angelina.
14:18 The gang's almost all here. The defense team, prosecutor, representatives for Filin, even the judge. We're all just waiting on the accused at this point.
14:16 Things are expected to get under way very soon here.
14:15 The bailiffs won't let anyone take pictures of Tsiskaridze and Angelina for whatever reason, but they seem to be in good spirits - smiling and talking to each other.
14:09 "Tsiskaridze fluttered into the courtroom," our reporter on the ground tells us. By the way, that's the other thing you should check out as we're waiting for things to get underway - what Tsiskaridze has been up to lately. The former start Bolshoi dancer is presently serving as acting principal of the legendary Vaganova Ballet Academy. Check out his professional profile. And then check out this video of him dancing.
14:05 Ballerina Angelina Vorontsova and one of our main subjects for today Nikolai Tsiskaridze have already been spotted. The journalists are holding their breaths, hoping for a courtroom that will accommodate the turnout... no pun intended.
14:01 While we're waiting for things to get under way, there are a few things you should check out. Let's start with RAPSI's broadcast of Dmitrichenko's testimony. His testimony weaves an elaborate tale, and begins here at about 17:18.
14:00 Members of the press have turned out en masse for today's testimonies, including such international outlets as Reuters and the New York Times.
13:55 Today's round of questioning in the gripping trial surrounding the devastating acid attack will open with Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, who began to testify Friday evening. Later today, Tsiskaridze is expected to testify.
13:43 Good afternoon Russian-law and ballet enthusiasts, and welcome to RAPSI’s live coverage of former Bolshoi Ballet dynamo Nikolai Tsiskaridze's acid-attack testimony. With you this morning are Diana Gutsul, Ingrid Burke, and Alexander Karpov.
You can read the previous hearing's transcript with Sergei Filin's testominy here.
Filin suffered third-degree burns to his face and eyes on January 17 when unknown assailants attacked him with what is believed to have been concentrated acid. Shortly after the attack, a Bolshoi Theater spokesperson confirmed that Filin had received various threats.
Three men were arrested in March in connection with the attack, including Pavel Dmitrichenko, a leading Bolshoi soloist, the alleged attacker Yury Zarutsky and driver Andrei Lipatov. They each face 12 years in prison if convicted.
Filin returned to Moscow last September after six months of treatment in a German hospital. He has undergone more than 20 eye surgeries, and German doctors said that Filins eyesight had improved significantly. After losing over 90 percent of his vision in his left eye and becoming totally blind in his right eye, 80 percent of the vision in his left eye has been restored, and he can distinguish big objects with his right eye.
Filin suggested that the aim of the attack may have been to remove him from his position as artistic director and to destroy the prestigious Moscow ballet company's reputation.