Asia-Pacific

Thai police question Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev

Thai police confront Mikhail Pletnev (in light blue shirt)
Image caption Thai police questioned Mikhail Pletnev in a restaurant

Police in the Thai resort of Pattaya have questioned Russian musician Mikhail Pletnev over allegations of sex with an under-age boy.

Confronted by police in a restaurant, Mr Pletnev could be heard saying: "I never had sex with a boy."

The Grammy award-winning pianist and conductor was released on bail after questioning and a search of his home.

His orchestra said no charges had been brought against him, he had not been arrested and he was not in custody.

The detective in charge of the case, Lt Col Omsin Sukkankha, told Russian news agency Ria-Novosti the musician had been detained in connection with a "statement from the guardians of a 15-year-old boy under the article of the Thai criminal code regarding corruption of a minor".

Video of police confronting Mr Pletnev in the restaurant on Monday, then escorting him to his property and conducting a search, was shown by a local TV channel, Pattaya One.

In its report, the channel said police officers from the Police Region 2 Child and Women Protection Unit had "served an arrest warrant" on Mr Pletnev after arresting a Thai man on Sunday, who was suspected of child molestation and the procuring of children.

Renowned musician

According to Ria-Novosti, Russia's consul in Bangkok, Andrei Dvornikov, spoke to Mr Pletnev by phone.

He said police had informed Mr Pletnev that "several Thai citizens arrested earlier for paedophilia and the manufacture of child pornography had given evidence against him".

The foreign ministry in Moscow said earlier it was seeking to find out why the musician had been detained in Pattaya.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said Mr Pletnev had a Thai lawyer and had not asked for help from the Russian consulate.

Mikhail Pletnev, who won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Gold Medal in 1978, is a much-recorded pianist and the artistic director of the Russian National Orchestra (RNO).

The 53-year-old won a 2005 Grammy for an arrangement of Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella.

Confirming that Mr Pletnev was at his home in Thailand, RNO press secretary Svetlana Chaplygina said the conductor had been on holiday and was due to return to work shortly, with the orchestra scheduled to begin a European tour within days.

According to the RNO's website, Mr Pletnev is due to conduct the orchestra in Macedonia on 12 July.

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