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“I hear a lot about grudges about this,” said Anna Gordeyeva, a ballet critic at the Moskovskie Novosti daily. “Many dancers tell me that they cannot understand why somebody gets a leave of absence and somebody else doesn’t.”

Rivalries over top parts also have continued to fuel conflicts. “There are a lot of questions about how Filin picked the dancers he wanted to promote,” Gordeyeva said.

Filin’s assistant, Dilyara Timergazina, joined Iksanov in pointing to Tsiskaridze as “a key source of the tensions.” She said that Tsiskaridze’s students “extort parts” and “are always unhappy with everything.”

On the television show, Tsiskaridze expressed indignation over the criticism.

“For 21 years. I have honestly served not only the Bolshoi but the country’s image,” he said. “I have represented the country on the stages of all the world’s leading theaters. I don’t know why I should bear these insults.”


AP writers Nataliya Vasilyeva and Lynn Berry contributed to this story.