Bolshoi ballet director quits in 'porn smear scandal'

17th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's Bolshoi Theatre reeled from a hugely embarrassing scandal Thursday after the director of its famous ballet troupe was forced to resign over images published on a pornographic website.

Bolshoi star dancer Gennady Yanin, who headed the ballet troupe since 2003, was forced to resign after pornographic images resembling him were posted on the Internet and links sent in e-mails in an apparent smear campaign.

He had been a leading candidate to take over as the theatre's artistic director, in a decision that had been expected to be announced earlier this week.

Last week anonymous opponents of Yanin sent links to an erotic site with photographs of a man resembling Yanin to hundreds of e-mail addresses, the Izvestia daily reported.

The images were placed on a website styled to look like that of the Bolshoi Theatre, which quickly disappeared from the Internet, Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid reported.

A website named by bloggers as the one where the images were posted was not opening Thursday.

Yanin responded by resigning as ballet director without taking any legal action, a decision accepted by the theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, Izvestia reported.

"Despite all the vileness of this action, it achieved its aim. Now the blow to Yanin's reputation will not allow the theatre leadership to promote him," Kommersant business daily wrote.

It said the case repeated a method used against Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov, who was sacked in 2000 after a video showing a man resembling him having sex with two women was shown on television news.

On Monday the Bolshoi Theatre said in a brief statement that it had appointed a new ballet director, Yan Godovsky. The post of artistic director remains vacant.

Yanin joined the Bolshoi ballet in 1995 after dancing in two other Moscow troupes. He presents a weekly television arts show on the state-owned Kultura channel.

Ballet critic Vadim Gayevsky told the RIA Novosti news agency that Yanin was a "talented dancer but a person with a very bad reputation," without elaborating.

In an interview to Radio Liberty in 2005, Yanin said his position of authority over his colleagues on stage was the hardest thing about his job.

"I had great relations with almost all of them but naturally I cannot project them onto my work directing the ballet troupe," he said.

Last year a Russian ballerina at the Vienna Opera Ballet, Karina Sarkisova, was sacked for appearing in an topless photoshoot for a men's magazine, before being reinstated soon afterwards.


© 2011 AFP

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