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Comment on The Arts Desk: How can the Bolshoi rise again?

Trial day 11: Hitman Zarutsky testifies

Trial day 11: Stars defend Filin, attack Tsiskaridze

3 DEC 13    

The dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko and his two co-defendants have been convicted of the acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin. Judge Elena Maximova announced the guilty verdicts at 12 noon Moscow time, before starting a lengthy summing up which is due to be followed by sentencing this afternoon.

The prosecution has asked for 9 years jail with hard labour for Dmitrichenko, a Bolshoi dancer, and 10 years jail with hard labour for the hitman he commissioned to attack Filin, Yuri Zarutsky. The driver Andrei Lipatov is facing a 6 year term, if the prosecution request is granted.

The judge, summing up, stated that she was satisfied that Dmitrichenko, motivated by discontent over the way Filin handed out bonus payments and dancing roles - including Filin’s refusal of them for his girlfriend, the young ballerina Angelina Vorontsova - plotted with Zarutsky to give him a severe beating up in order to persuade him to change his working method. Severe physical harm was intended, she said. It was Zarutsky, however, who decided on the use of acid, which he made by mixing car battery acid, or electrolyte, with water - which he said was his own urine.

This resulted in sulphuric acid, which caused Filin such severe burns to his eyes that he has lost almost all vision in one eye and the other is markedly damaged, despite a long series of operations in a specialist clinic in Germany.

The Meshchansky Court in Moscow was packed with reporters and supporters of each side, as the judge gave an uncompromising assessment of the case, focusing on the crime rather than the extensive dramas of personal attacks that were vented during the trial.

She laid emphasis on the series of events whereby premeditation was shown by Dmitrichenko and preplanning with Yarutsky, and the fact that on the night of the attack Dmitrichenko actually watched for Filin’s exit from the theatre he was at and alerted Zarutsky.

She said she believed the pair had done a recce on Filin’s apartment block on a previous occasion to see where the cameras were. Camera footage showed Zarutsky running down Troitsky Street, where the block is.

She noted that Dmitrichenko had supplied Zarutsky with unregistered mobile phones and SIM cards. Records showed phone calls between the two men on 4, 11, 15, 16, 17 - the day of the attack - and 18 January.

The judge said it was readily discoverable from the internet that electrolye contained sulphuric acid, which could be prepared to a greater strength. She was satisfied with the expert witness that Filin’s clothes and effects showed sulphuric acid burns.

No doubt on medical evidence

On the medical evidence - which the defence has long contested, claiming it had been exaggerated or even simulated - Judge Maximova said there were no grounds to doubt any of the reports by German specialists who treated Filin as to the damage to Filin’s sight, which she said was directly caused by the attack.

She believed from the evidence that Dmitrichenko met Zarutsky in a shop [in the weekend dacha suburb of Moscow] and the dancer told the other of his disagreements with Filin over how bonuses were distributed. Zarutsky told Dmitrichenko to deal with Filin somehow.

Dmitrichenko asked how much Zarutsky would want to beat Filin up. The latter asked, “How much will you pay?” Dmitrichenko offered 50,000 rubles, said the judge.

Zarutsky’s proposal to “sort Filin out” was made in autumn 2012, and he made an attempt to get him in the street but abandoned it because of too many people present.

He suggested doing the deed after the New Year holiday, which Dmitrichenko agreed to. He brought Lipatov in with him to go and get the money from Dmitrichenko, but they did not discuss the intended assault with him. Dmitrichenko had told Zarutsky on different occasions about his various disagreements with Filin and had asked him when he would be meeting up with Filin. The two of them had visited the intended scene of the assault to check the CCTV cameras.

She believed that Dmitrichenko did alert Zarutsky on the night of the attack so that Zarutsky could follow and assault him.

But she did not think Dmitrichenko had anticipated Zarutsky using acid.

Zarutsky himself formed the idea of “marking Filin’s face” and found out from the internet how to turn car battery electrolyte into higher strength sulphuric acid by diluting it, but he did not intend to do severe damage. Before the attack, he dripped some onto his hand and felt slight burning.

Turning to Lipatov, she noted that his wife had testified that they were in financial difficulties. She thought his claim in the witness box that he was unaware of what was going on was contradicted by other evidence.

She also dealt briefly with the evidence of defence witnesses concerning Dmitrichenko’s relations with Filin. None of it she believed contradicted evidence of guilt of the crime.

Summing up

The judge summed up: Dmitrichenko who had bad relations with Filin at work in the theatre communicated this information to Zarutsky, who did not work at the theatre and did not know Filin. Dmitrichenko supplied Zarutsky with telephones and supplied him with Filin’s home address with the goal of facilitating a criminal plan. Zarutsky performed the agreed role, knowing what acid could do, said the judge. in accordance with the preformed plan, Zarutsky took a spare set of clothes with him to the crime scene, while Lipatov aided him in carrying out the crime.

The judge considered the guilt of the three was proved.

In terms of the categorisation of the crime, the judge considered the men’s actions were consistent with prior agreement to cause damage to the health of someone carrying out official duties. Dmitrichenko provided information to Zarutsky as an accomplice in the crime, Lipatov was complicit in taking Zarutsky to the crime and waiting for him, and keeping watch.


The court took into consideration that Zarutsky has a child and that he has relapsed into crime again. Also that Dmitrichenko had no previous convictions, and had useful employment. Also Lipatov had no previous convictions, and a child, and he had taken a middle-man role in events.

For all three the judge saw no possibility of a conditional sentence.

Zarutsky will serve his term in a penal colony, due to his recidivism into extremely dangerous actions.

Damages approved

The court fully approves a civil claim for damages to be paid to Filin of 508,000 rubles for material effects and 3,000,000 rubles for moral damage.

Zarutsky 10 years gaol with hard labour.

Dmitrichenko 6 years gaol.

Lipatov 4 years gaol.

Dmitrichenko is to appeal.

Guilty, guilty, guilty, says judge

"The judge did not think Dmitrichenko had anticipated Zarutsky using acid"

Lipatov and Dmitrichenko in court this morning (photo RIA/Novosti)