A leading ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet has asked to stay in Canada after receiving threats following an acid attack on the troupe's chief.
Svetlana Lunkina, 33, asked the Bolshoi to extend her leave as she fears returning to Russia. Two weeks ago artistic director Sergei Filin, was badly burned when an masked attacker threw sulphuric acid in his face.
The ballerina said she was scared by the attack on Filin, who has undergone several operations to save his sight.
"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 tsar, Nicholas II.
She said her husband, Vladislav Moskalyov, fell 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 theatres 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 her husband had a conflict with Filin and had threatened the ballet chief.