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Russian Bolshoi acid attack victim to return to Moscow

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, attends a news conference in the university hospital in the western German city
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, attends a news conference in the university hospital in the western German city

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet is returning to Moscow from Germany following eight months and 22 operations on his eyes and face after an acid attack that nearly blinded him, the theatre's spokeswoman said.

Sergei Filin will fly in on Saturday and take part in the troupe's reunion after holidays on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said. She could not say what role he might play in the troupe in the future.

"The troupe hopes very much that Sergei will recover and come back," Katerina Novikova said. "To what extent he will be able to take part in the life of the troupe, that will become clear in the nearest future."

Filin had the power to make or break careers at the Bolshoi, a world-renowned symbol of Russian culture, and the January 17 attack put the ballet's bitter internal rivalries in the spotlight.

Novikova said in June Filin could not see out of one eye at all and vision in the second one was severely damaged. She had no fresh details on his health on Thursday.

One of the Bolshoi's top dancers, Pavel Dmitrichenko, is on trial on charges of ordering the attack. He and his two alleged accomplices face up to 12 years in jail if convicted.

Dmitrichenko, who made his name playing villains in Swan Lake and Ivan the Terrible, told the court he was upset with the management and Filin, but that he only wanted the artistic director beaten up, not attacked with acid.

Russia dismissed the long-serving head of the Bolshoi in the aftermath of the incident, and entrusted another experienced theatre manager with the mission to rebuild the theatre's reputation.

"From the very first day after this horrid event took place, everybody (in the theatre) felt we want to prove to ourselves and Sergei and the whole world that we are worthy and apt. The best thing we can do for Sergei is to do our job well, that is dance," Novikova said.

(Reporting by Catherine Koppel; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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