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Bolshoi director leaves hospital, describes 'unbearable' pain of acid attack

Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director, Sergei Filin, recalls the "unbearable pain" from January's acid attack as he leaves a Moscow hospital for treatment in Germany. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

MOSCOW — The Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director, Sergei Filin, left a Moscow hospital on Monday to have treatment in Germany after an acid attack that damaged his eyes and face.

Wearing dark glasses but saying he felt well, the 42-year-old said before checking out of the hospital that he knew who was behind last month's attack and made clear he believed it was linked to his work at Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Theater.


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"I feel well, I'd even say great, if only my eyes could see a bit better. But I can say I feel well," he told reporters as he left, wearing a netted bandage across the lower part of his face.

Filin told Russian state television about the agony he experienced after the attack, which occurred as he was walking home at night from the Bolshoi on Jan. 17. "I fell on my face in the snow and began to rub snow in my face and eyes," he said.

"I was in terrible, unbearable pain."

He said he lay in the empty street in front of his apartment building for 20 minutes after the attack, pressing his face into the snow, until he caught the attention of a security guard who called an ambulance. 

Filin also told the television crew before leaving the hospital that he forgave his masked attacker, who splashed acid in his face outside his Moscow apartment.

Asked if he knew who had attacked him, he said in the television interview: "Every person has an organ called a heart, and my heart knows who did it, and in my soul I have an answer to that question."

Filin had been one of the most talked-about figures in Russia as head of the ballet for nearly two years when he was attacked. He said the attack followed repeated threats and may have been motivated by rivalry or resentment.