Russia's Bolshoi Theatre said Friday it may sue one of its top dancers after he gave a series of interviews criticising its management in the wake of a horrific acid attack on the ballet's artistic director.
"Our lawyers are now examining Nikolai Tsiskaridze's statements. We are discussing the possibility of launching legal action to defend the theatre's business reputation," Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova told AFP.
Tsiskaridze, 39, has been engaged in a media war of words with the theatre's management since artistic director Sergei Filin suffered eye and facial injuries in the acid attack last month, for which he is now receiving treatment in Germany.
Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov in several interviews accused Tsiskaridze, a flamboyant star at the theatre for over a decade, of creating the atmosphere that led to the attack against Filin.
Tsiskaridze bit back by vehemently denying the charges and accusing Iksanov in turn of ruining the theatre's reputation. He also questioned why his name was being connected with the attack on Filin.
In an interview with the BBC published Friday, Tsiskaridze called for the Russian government to sack the Bolshoi's management and also cast doubt on the official version of the attack on Filin, saying he did not believe sulphuric acid was used.
But Novikova told AFP: "His statements in such a tragic situation are incredible, particularly saying that it was not acid. A forensic investigation has shown that it was sulphuric acid, fortunately diluted."
Iksanov said in an interview with Snob magazine this week that under Russian law he could not fire Tsiskaridze but the dancer could be given a reprimand for criticising management.
On Sunday, Tsiskaridze danced the role of the Evil Genius in the classic Russian ballet "Swan Lake", according to the theatre's website.
The attack on Filin has now developed into possibly the ugliest scandal in the theatre's history since it was established in 1776.
Investigators have interviewed staff at the theatre, including Tsiskaridze, but have yet to announce any progress in the probe.