Bolshoi ballet chief undergoes operation to save eyes

Posted at 01/23/2013 10:57 PM | Updated as of 01/23/2013 10:57 PM

MOSCOW - The Bolshoi ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin underwent an operation on his eyes Wednesday as doctors battled to restore his sight after a horrific acid attack that he has linked to professional intrigue at the legendary Russian dance company.

Russia's chief eye-doctor Vladimir Neroyev told RIA Novosti state news agency that the operation in a Moscow hospital "went successfully, without complications. We note his condition is stable -- that is already good."

"Today we have more optimism," Neroyev added.

Police are searching for the hooded attacker who targeted Filin, 42, outside his apartment block in central Moscow on Thursday and splashed a mixture containing sulphuric acid in his face, causing chemical burns.

Both Filin's eyes were injured, with the right eye more seriously damaged, prompting fears that he will be unable to return to his high-profile job, which involves picking out dancers for starring roles and approving the repertoire of the venerable company where he was once a principal dancer.

"Its state is worse," Neroyev said of Filin's right eye, but added: "We will do everything possible to ensure that all goes well for Sergei Filin in the future."

However, there are fears that Filin might never recover his sight fully.

"It's possible that Sergei will not get his sight back fully," a medical source told the Interfax news agency, saying that an accurate prediction would only be possible in one to two weeks.

Filin underwent emergency surgery on his eyes on Friday after the attack and on Tuesday he had surgery to remove lesions from third-degree burns to his face.

Filin said in his first major interview after the attack, published in the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda on Tuesday, that he could make out little detail with his right eye.

"Sometimes I get to see all the fingers on my hand. This fills me with optimism and hope.

"I associate what happened with my work," detailing a campaign of intimidation including threats and slashed tyres on his car, without naming any names.

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