Russian cellist fired for insulting train passenger

A Russian cellist has been fired by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra after verbally harassing a female passenger on a high-speed train last week.

“His conduct has severely damaged the orchestra’s reputation. We have decided to fire him in accordance with orchestra regulations and the terms of his employment contract,” the orchestra said in a Tuesday announcement on its website.

The incident, which occurred on a train traveling from Shenyang to Beijing on May 14, was captured on video and uploaded to Sina Weibo, the country’s largest microblogging website, the day after.

In the clip, the cellist can be seen putting his bare feet high on the back of the chair in front of him, touching the head of a female Chinese passenger with his feet.

The woman’s requests to lower his feet were ignored, leading her to beat the man’s feet with a magazine and pelt him with water bottles. The man replied to her barrage with sarcastic remarks and insults, all delivered in fluent Chinese.

The video sparked strong indignation after it was posted on the Internet. The Russian man was later recognized as Oleg Vedernikov, a 45-year-old award-winning cellist employed by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra.

Vedernikov himself posted a video on the Internet last week, apologizing in Russian for his misconduct on the train.

However, his apology was not enough to save his job.

“The Beijing Symphony Orchestra requires its employees, including foreign artists, to abide by China’s laws, regulations and ethical codes, as well as the orchestra’s own rules,” said Tan Lihua, head of the orchestra.

“They are required to maintain good manners and protect the orchestra’s image and reputation,” Tan said.

“We will improve the way the orchestra is administered and try to prevent such incidents from occurring again,” he added.


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