Acclaimed Russian Pianist Charged with Rape in Thailand

Thai authorities have arrested renowned Russian pianist Mikhail Vasilievich Pletnev for raping a 14-year-old boy, among other charges.

Police said Pletnev was nabbed on Monday after authorities received a tip from a Thai national. Authorities also found photographs where Pletnev is seen with other boys in compromising positions. Pletnev, founder of the Russian National Orchestra, could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. The 53-year-old, who is also a conductor, was released on Tuesday after posting a $9,000 bail. He is required to report to authorities every 12 days and prohibited from talking to witnesses.

Pletnev, who won a Grammy Award in 2005, has described the incident as “a misunderstanding,” even as he promised not to flee Thailand, where he has a home and several business establishments in the resort town of Pattaya.

Pletnev earned worldwide recognition when he won the gold medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978. In 1990, he founded the Russian National Orchestra, Russia’s first non-government supported Orchestra since 1917, with the help of then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.