Pattaya, the 6th of July 2010 [PDN]: Mr. Pletnev is a famous Russian pianist, conductor and composer who has over 30 years of experience in the music industry. Most notably Mr. Pletnev is responsible for founding the Russian National Orchestra in 1990 due to his strong friendship with former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. The Russian National Orchestra was the first privately operated, non-government backed orchestra in Russia since 1917.
Having played for such dignitaries as the Russian and American Presidents, various royal families, celebrities and even Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand, Mr. Pletnev has intermittently been residing in the Kingdom for the last 15 years and has performed as a guest conductor with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra on several occasions. Although his work commitments as an exclusive contract pianist with the Deutsche Gramophone Company do not allow him too permanently reside in the Kingdom.
Despite all of his fame and notoriety, Mr. Pletnev has now found himself embroiled in allegations of child prostitution and pornography. He was arrested on Monday morning whilst dining in the café of the Euro Badminton Complex in Pattaya. Police apprehended Mr. Pletnev due to his relationship with a Thai man, Mr. Traiphop Bunphasong who was arrested on Sunday and later implicated as the leader of a child prostitution racket in Pattaya.
Mr. Pletnev explained to PDN that he had known Mr. Bunphasong for many years and that he was a talented artist, but that he had no knowledge of any illegal activities that Mr. Bunphasong is alleged to have been involved with. Having frequently visited the region for many years, Mr. Pletnev owns two houses in Pattaya both of which he was paying Mr. Bunphasong to look after whilst he was frequently away from the country performing. He also owns a restaurant and several businesses, including a badminton club in Thailand.
During an exclusive interview with Mr. Pletnev at his palatial home on Soi Siam Country Club, he revealed that he had never been involved in any illegal or illicit dealings with children and that he assumes he is a suspect due to his connection with Mr. Bunphasong. Remaining calm, polite and accepting throughout, Mr. Pletnev did not even begrudge the media or police for their investigations, understanding that they have to look into complaints of such a serious nature and investigate all avenues regardless of who is involved.
When asked about the evidence reported in police statements, Mr. Pletnev explained that police had only found one photograph of himself and a Thai friend which was taken in Switzerland several years ago, at the time the Thai man was approximately 25-years-old. Despite Mr. Pletnev’s insistence that they search his computer and hard drives officers did not, as was reported, search the computer system or find any substantiating evidence. He also explained that they had only searched his residence in Soi Siam Country Club and not the one in central Pattaya, where Mr. Bunphasong had been staying temporarily.
Mr. Pletnev did not deny that there may be indecent material on the computers as he was so frequently not at home and gave access to the houses to Mr. Bunphasong. He revealed that he was open to having the police come and check the systems, confident that any offending material could be traced to a time at which he was not in the country.
Despite the very damaging and potentially career threatening allegations being held against him, Mr. Pletnev will now await the outcome of a court hearing on his case scheduled for today, which will decide whether he is given travel allowance to continue working whilst judicial proceedings are ongoing. He has been temporarily released from police custody having paid Bt300,000 bail and is facing up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the charges being leveled against him.
A Russian national has been arrested for his involvement in a child prostitution network operating in Pattaya. The arrest follows Sundays bust on a Thai man thought to be the main agent in the operation involved with procuring young boys for largely foreign clientele.