A history of politics and betrayal at Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet—and an investigation into the acid attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin:
“The liquid was sulfuric acid—the “oil of vitriol,” as medieval alchemists called it. Depending on the concentration, it can lay waste to human skin as quickly as in a horror movie. Scientists working with sulfuric acid wear protective goggles; even a small amount in the eyes can destroy the cornea and cause permanent blindness.
“Filin was in agony. The burning was immediate and severe. His vision turned to black. He could feel the scalding of his face and scalp, the pain intensifying all the time.
“‘In those first seconds, all I could think was, How can I relieve the pain?’ Filin told me later. ‘The burning was so awful. I tried to move. I fell face first into the snow. I started grabbing handfuls of snow and rubbing it into my face and eyes. I felt some small relief from the snow. I thought of how to get home. I was pretty close to my door. There’s an electronic code and a metal door, but I couldn’t punch in the numbers of the code. I couldn’t see them. When I understood that I couldn’t get into the building, I started shouting, “Help! Help! I need help!” But no one was around.’”