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Russia Bolshoi Ballet acid victim: I forgive my attacker

Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images, file

An April 2011 photo shows Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, as he looked before an attacker threw acid in his face in Moscow on Friday.

MOSCOW -- The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet says he has forgiven the attacker who splashed acid in his face and has pledged to return to the stage.

His head shaven and a bandage around his neck, Sergei Filin told a Russian television station from his hospital room that he was determined to return to work despite his injuries.

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Filin, 42, suffered severe burns during the attack on his way home from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow late on Jan. 18. Doctors have performed two operations on each eye and hope to save his sight.

"I am not going to lie. Of course it is very hard for me and very difficult," Filin said in grainy footage in a video-link with NTV television late on Sunday.

"I tell myself every morning when I wake up: 'Sergei, you are healthy, everything is in its place -- your arms, your legs.' ... And I will do everything to go back to being the same Sergei I was before."

Filin did not wear the thick bandages that had swathed his head and face in mobile phone footage taken the day after the attack, but his eyes were half-closed and it was unclear whether he could see.

Filin's job gave him the power to make or break careers at the ballet, which is an enduring symbol of Russian culture. He said after the attack that he had been receiving threats.

"A priest came to me, and I told him: 'You know, I forgive everyone, and God will be their judge. Because people are weak,'" he said. "I forgive all the people who are involved in this."

He said he did not know who was behind the attack but made clear he believed that it was related to his work.

"Before somehow satisfying their ambitions or quenching the pain of resentment ... it would be truly good if they would just think about the fact that I have three remarkable sons," Filin said.

"Even if the worst happens, I will continue to look upon this world, and I will continue to do what I do -- but it will be through the eyes of my three sons."

Russia's top eye doctor told Reuters last week that Filin would retain at least some vision in each eye.

"I promise, you will see me on stage," Filin said.