Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Thai molestation probe of Russian conductor closed

The Guardian, LONDON

An investigation into accusations of child molestation by one of the world’s leading classical musicians, Mikhail Pletnev, has been formally dropped without charges being pressed, the Russian National Orchestra (RNO) has confirmed.

The investigation began in July, when Pletnev, 54 — the celebrated pianist who is the founder and conductor of the RNO — was arrested in Pattaya, a resort in Thailand, where he owns several properties.

There were allegations that he had been involved in a child prostitution ring and had molested a minor.

After his arrest, Pletnev was released on bail, returning regularly to Pattaya under the terms prescribed by Pattaya district court. The bail restrictions have now been lifted.

Over the summer, Pletnev canceled prominent concert dates in London and the Edinburgh international festival, where he was due to conduct the RNO.

At the time, Pletnev said: “I do not wish to overshadow the wonderful music-making of the RNO and their tour in the UK with the current accusations surrounding my person. I will not comment on the ongoing investigation, but I hope the matter will be resolved speedily and it will be clear that I am innocent of the accusations against me. I look forward to returning to the UK with my orchestra soon.”

According to the RNO’s statement: “Mr Pletnev has always refuted the accusations made against him. He has been fully cooperative during the Thai authorities investigations.”

The RNO is currently undertaking a European tour of Italy, France, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands, and Pletnev conducts the orchestra on Wednesday in its hometown of Moscow.

The orchestra was founded in 1990 with the support of Mikhail Gorbachev and was unique in Russia at the time for being funded by private sponsorship.

Its first recording, the following year, of Tchaikovsky’s Pathe-tique symphony, was described as “an awe-inspiring experience” by Gramophone magazine.

Born in Archangel, Pletnev studied at the Moscow Conservatory and won the gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1978.

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