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Thailand revokes visa of Russian maestro on rape charge

Thailand has cancelled the visa of Russian conductor Mikhail Pletnev, meaning he faces deportation even if child rape charges are dropped, an immigration official said Wednesday.

“The Thai immigration bureau has blacklisted him on the grounds that his behaviour is detrimental to Thailand,” said Major General Pansak Kasamsan, deputy commissioner at the bureau.

“His Thai visa was automatically revoked after his name was blacklisted,” he said. “He would eventually be deported whether it goes to trial or the charges are dropped.”

Pletnev, artistic director of the Russian National Orchestra, was charged in early July with the rape of a 14-year-old boy in Pattaya, where he has a house.

He denies the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, and was released on bail.

The award-winning maestro was allowed by a Thai court to travel overseas but is required to report back every 12 days. He returned to Thailand over the weekend after attending a music festival in Macedonia.

Pletnev, 53, founded the Russian National Orchestra in 1990 just before the break-up of the Soviet Union and his arrest has sent shock waves through Russia’s musical world.

He is a member of President Dmitry Medvedev’s advisory council on culture and art, and in 2005 won a Grammy award for best chamber music performance.