The star dancer accused of masterminding the attack on the Bolshoi ballet chief has admitted that he gave the go-ahead for the attack, but told a Moscow court that he did not order anyone to throw acid on the artistic director's face.
The judge, however, refused to release Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko on bail and ordered him and his two co-defendants held until at least April 18 while the investigation continued.
Ballet chief Sergei Filin's face and eyes suffered severe burns in the January 17 attack, which exposed a culture of deep intrigue and infighting at the famed theatre celebrated for its grand, classical ballets.
Dmitrichenko said he had complained about the ballet chief to an acquaintance, who offered to "beat him up".
"It's not true that I ordered him to throw acid at Filin," the 29-year-old dancer told the court, speaking from a cage. He said he had never intended for the attack to cause such bodily harm.
Moscow police said today that Dmitrichenko had paid 50,000 roubles (about £1,070) to the man, Yuri Zarutsky, accused of throwing the jar of acid in the ballet chief's face as he returned home late at night. The third defendant, Andrei Lipatov, drove the getaway car, but said in video provided by police that he did not know the purpose of his mission.
Dmitrichenko said he was angered by Filin's decisions on how money was allocated to dancers at the theatre. "I told Yuri Zarutsky about the policies of the Bolshoi Theatre, about the bad things going on, the corruption. When he said: 'OK, let me beat him up, hit him upside the head,' I agreed, but that is all that I admit to doing," he said in court.
Police said they had determined that Zarutsky had purchased acid at a car shop and believe he then heated it to make it more concentrated.
State television has suggested that the dancer was motivated by Filin's refusal to cast his girlfriend, also a Bolshoi soloist, in a starring role. Filin's lawyer and wife, however, both cautioned against focusing too much attention on the ballerina and said the circle of people involved in the attack was wider than the three men detained this week.
The Bolshoi's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has accused veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inspiring the attack. Tsiskaridze, a long-time critic of the theatre's management, has denied the allegation.