Among the three was a man suspected of throwing acid into Sergei Filin’s face, the ministry said, as another source reportedly said the dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, was being investigated for allegedly ordering the attack.
“Police have detained the suspected perpetrator of the attack on the director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin,” the ministry said in a statement, naming him as 35-year-old Yury Zarutsky, an ex-convict.
The two other men were Dmitrichenko and Andrei Lipatov, a driver who took the suspected attacker to the scene of the crime, the statement said.
Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova refused to comment.
The attack on Filin outside his apartment block in central Moscow laid bare the dark intrigues swirling at the Bolshoi where he was a star dancer before becoming the ballet troupe’s artistic director in 2011.
The incident shocked the artistic community and has developed into probably the ugliest scandal in the venerable theatre’s history since it was established in 1776.
A law enforcement source said that Dmitrichenko was suspected as the mastermind of the attack, although this was not confirmed officially.
“At the moment, the investigation has evidence that this attack was ordered by Dmitrichenko, the motives are being identified,” the source in Moscow’s law enforcement agencies told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The soloist dancer joined the theatre in 2002. He recently danced the title role in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Ivan the Terrible” and had been due to appear next in “Sleeping Beauty” on March 16.
Russian media speculated that Dmitrichenko could have had a motive because his girlfriend, a young ballerina at the theatre Anzhelina Vorontsova, had been involved in conflicts with Filin over the allocation of roles.
“Dmitrichenko actively spoke out to defend the young soloist,” wrote Izvestia daily, citing a source in the theatre who described Dmitrichenko as having a “stormy temperament”.
Filin had recently refused Vorontsova a solo role in “Swan Lake”, reported Gazeta.ru news site, citing a source at the theatre.
Earlier Tuesday, officers searched Dmitrichenko’s apartment as part of the high-profile probe into the attack in which a masked assailant threw a solution of sulphuric acid in the face of 42-year-old Filin as he entered his building through a dark parking lot.
Filin spent about two weeks in a Moscow hospital receiving treatment for burns to his face and undergoing a series of operations on his eyes.
He has since been moved to Germany for more treatment that may take months. His sight was last reported to have partially recovered in one eye.
Several Bolshoi members were interviewed after the attack, which Filin and investigators said was probably linked to his professional activities.
Filin has said several times in interviews that he knows who may have masterminded the attack, although he has not given any names publicly, blaming the incident on personal rivalries at the theatre.
“Of course, the person who splashed me with acid from a jar and the people who ordered it are totally different people,” he told Rossiya 24 state television last month.
“This is linked to my professional activities. It was not something spontaneous,” he said.
Bolshoi spokeswoman Novikova told the Interfax news agency Tuesday she hoped Filin would recover in time to return to work when the troupe makes its high-profile appearance in London this summer.
Filin has been replaced as the ballet’s artistic director on an interim basis by veteran ballerina Galina Stepanenko.