MOSCOW, March 13 - RAPSI. Over 300 members of the Bolshoi Ballet company have signed a letter in defense of the lead soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, who stands accused of having organized an acid attack on the theater's artistic director Sergey Filin, which left him nearly blind.

They claim that Dmitrichenko did not organize the attack on Artistic Director Sergei Filin, as investigators believe.

Bolshoi Theater General Director Anatoly Iskanov said he shares their concern that the investigators may have come to hasty conclusions about Dmitrichenko's guilt.

There are certain facts that suggest a different mastermind behind the crime - someone outside the theater, he told a news briefing.

He said he was writing a statement to the law enforcement authorities, asking them to consider a number of facts that have been overlooked by the investigators.
There was mounting pressure on Filin two weeks before the attack.

"His email account was hacked, a fake Filin website was created, his office phone was blocked and his tires were punctured," Iskanov said, adding that he was concerned about both Filin's health and Dmitrichenko's future.

Dmitrichenko and two others have been detained in connection with the acid attack against Filin. If convicted, the assailants face up to eight years in jail for willfully inflicting damage on the health of another person.

Filin, 42, joined the Bolshoi as a dancer in 1988, after graduating from the Moscow School of Choreography. He has also been invited on several occasions to dance with the English, Hungarian and Japanese national ballets, as well as with many other theaters. He ended his dancing career in 2008. In March 2011, he was appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater amid fierce rivalry for the position.

On January 17, an assailant heaved what is believed to have been concentrated sulfuric acid in Filin's face as he attempted to enter his home. Filin suffered third degree burns. Despite initial fears, he is expected to recover his vision.

Shortly after the attack, a Bolshoi Theater spokesperson confirmed that Filin had recently received threats. He is currently undergoing treatment in Germany.

On March 5, the Interior Ministry announced the arrests of the alleged perpetrators. Yuri Zarutsky, who is suspected of having physically carried out the attack, was detained in Russia's Tver region.

Andrei Lipatov, who is suspected of having been the driver in the operation, was also arrested. Dmitrichenko was arrested on suspicion of having paid the other two to carry out the attack.

Police reported that all the detainees have submitted written confessions.

They will remain in custody at least until the preliminary investigation wraps up on April 18.