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Bolshoi chief will recover enough sight to work again: doctor

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by R
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet, gestures during an interview in a still image from footage shot by R

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director will recover enough eyesight to return to work after a masked assailant threw acid in his face, a doctor said on Thursday.

Sergei Filin, 42, one of the most talked about figures in Russia as head of the ballet for nearly two years, was attacked outside his house on his way home from the prestigious theatre on January 18.

Russia's top eye doctor played down fears the talent director would be blinded and never be able to work again, assessing his condition as moderately severe.

"He has acid burns in both eyes: more severe burns in the right eye, lighter on the left side," said Vladimir Neroyev, who took part in some of Filin's four eye operations - two on each eye - since the attack.

Neroyev said it was too early to say how bad the damage would be but that the former ballet dancer would retain at least some eyesight in each eye.

"I think in any case he will be fully fit for work," Neroyev said.

But Filin faces at least a year of medical treatment and rehabilitation with his next surgery planned for Monday.

The Bolshoi Theatre has seen many power struggles among dancers and directors but the acid attack is thought to be among the most serious in its 200-year history.

Filin has said he had been receiving threats for more than a month before the attack. Dancers and administrators have suggested envy or resentment as a possible motive since Filin's job gave him the power to make or break careers. No arrests have been made so far.

Russia's top specialists are treating Filin in Moscow, Neroyev said, but he may decide to travel abroad for further treatment.

"The situation now is stable, there is no deterioration," he said. "It has even improved slightly and this is very good. There is hope and optimism the treatment will be effective."

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Tatiana Ustinova; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Robin Pomeroy)

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