Brash Russian cellist puts his foot in it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am


Anti-foreigner sentiment was further inflamed yesterday after a video clip showing an expatriate insulting a woman on the Shenyang-Beijing train went viral.

The woman had asked the man to take his bare feet off the back of her seat. Monday's fracas ended with a security officer advising the woman to ignore the offence because the man 'is an artist'.

The man was later identified as Russian cellist Oleg Vedernikov, a principal with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. The video quickly drew attention on the internet, where it added fuel to an ongoing debate about the impact of foreigners.

Vedernikov later issued an apology on the orchestra's microblog. 'I deeply regret my behaviour and apologise to this lady and the public,' he said

The video starts with Vedernikov's feet up on the seat.

The woman, who has already stood up, begins hitting his feet with a magazine. She shouts at him in Putonghua to remove his feet, with at least one other passenger filming the incident.

The man just smiles and taunts her in standardised Putonghua.

'It's so comfortable!' he says. 'You are giving me a massage. Once more.'

At that, the woman, who appeared to have a northeastern accent, scolds him: 'Shame on you. You are a shame to your country.'

'You are very abnormal,' he replies, using a Chinese slur.

She moves to a seat further up the row, from which she tosses water bottles and magazines at him as he laughs.

The disturbance eventually attracts at least two security officers, one of whom asks the woman to change seats. She complies, but asks: 'For what reason should I move?'

The second officer, who had learned the man's identity, tells the woman to forget the dispute, 'since he is an artist'.

Criticism of foreigners has been rising since an online video surfaced two weeks ago showing a British man beating up and sexually assaulting a Chinese woman on a Beijing street.

Earlier this week, Beijing authorities announced a crackdown against foreigners who have entered the country illegally, overstayed their visas or may be working illegally.