Pavel Dmitrchenko makes first court appearance amidst claims, counter-claims and chaotic scenes.

The trial of the Bolshoi ballet dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, accused of masterminding the acid attack on the company’s artistic director Sergei Filin opened in Moscow yesterday and was almost immediately adjourned.

Filin’s eyesight was badly damaged after sulphuric acid was thrown in his face outside his Moscow flat back in January. He subsequently underwent a series of 20 operations in Germany and only returned to work recently, still wearing dark glasses.

Dmitrichenko, who has been in police custody since March, initially admitted his involvement but now denies arranging the attack, which was allegedly carried out by his co-defendants: Yuri Zarutsky, who is accused of throwing the acid, and Andrei Lipatov who is supposed to have driven the getaway car.

The tiny Moscow courtroom was so full of cameras and journalists that at first it proved impossible to manoeuvre the defendants into the dock. After some of the media pack had been removed, the trial got underway but ten minutes later it was decided to have most of the remaining reporters removed. The decision was immediately reversed only for the trial to be postponed a few minutes later because there...