Russian pianist facing rape charge leaves Thailand

Russian pianist was arrested in Pattaya for allegedly raping a Thai boy.

Updated: Jul 08, 2010, 14:41 PM IST

Bangkok: Internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev, arrested at a Thai beach resort this week after being accused of raping a boy, left Thailand on Thursday, police said.

Pletnev, 53, an award-winning pianist and conductor of the Russian National Orchestra, was arrested in Pattaya on Monday evening for allegedly raping a 14-year-old Thai boy and appearing in compromising photographs with several others.

Pletnev denied the allegations, police said.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty in one of the most high-profile paedophile cases in Thailand in recent years.

Pletnev was released on bail and has been given permission to leave the country on condition that he reports back on July 18.

"The court deemed he was not a flight risk since he is a long-time resident and property owner here," said Police Lieutenant-Colonel Omsin Sukkanka.

He said Pletnev left the country on a flight to Dubai and was believed to be heading to Moscow. He is scheduled to perform in Ohrid, Macedonia, on July 12.

Supakorn Noja, director of the Pattaya-based Child Protection and Development Centre, a rights group, expressed disappointment police did not contest the bail application and the request to leave the country.

Pattaya, a popular tourist destination 150 km (90 miles) from Bangkok, has been known for its vibrant nightlife and sex trade since the days of the Vietnam War, partly due to its proximity to an American air force base at the time.

Pletnev is a member of the Russian President`s advisory board on culture and holds the title of "people`s artist”, the highest state merit conferred on people in the arts.

He founded the Russian National Orchestra, whose recording of Sergei Prokofiev`s Peter and the Wolf and Beintus`s Wolf Tracks, conducted by Kent Nagano and narrated by Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, received a 2004 Grammy Award.

In 2005, he won a Grammy Award for his own arrangement of Prokofiev`s Cinderella.

Bureau Report