MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian officials on Tuesday announced the sacking of Bolshoi Theatre director Anatoly Iksanov following a series of scandals including the horrific January acid attack on its artistic director.
"Without question, the (Bolshoi) theatre needs renewal," Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky reporters. "Our actions are not spontaneous."
The long-serving theatre head is being replaced by Vladimir Urin of Moscow's Stanislavsky ant Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre, he said, adding that he was confident that Urin "can unite the Bolshoi Theatre's team".
Urin for his part said it was important that the change of management was proceeding in a "civilised manner."
He sought to allay fears that he would introduce major changes to a theatre that has been reeling from a series of scandals.
"I am not planning any revolutions," he said, noting that the decision to leave his own theatre was not easy.
When the Russian culture ministry first approached him with an offer to take charge of the country's top theatre, he refused, Urin said.
"And only then, after seriously considering and weighing all the circumstances, I agreed. I would like to express gratitude that I have been given this honour -- to become head of the theatre."
Iksanov, whose 13 years at the helm of the theatre were punctuated by a host of scandals, last month terminated the contract of his top critic and one of the Bolshoi's biggest stars, Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
Following the acid attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, Tsiskaridze called for the theatre's entire management to be sacked and for himself to be put in charge.
In the hugely damaging scandal, Filin suffered severe injuries and is now at risk of permanent blindness.
A top soloist at the ballet, Pavel Dmitrichenko, has been charged with ordering the attack and is now behind bars.
The attack on Filin shocked ballet aficionados by revealing poisonous behind-the-scenes feuds at the celebrated theatre.