Russian cellist Oleg Vedernikov last night publicly apologized in a video uploaded to Sina for his behavior on a train bound for Beijing earlier this week, when he was filmed insulting a fellow passenger.
"I deeply regret my behavior, and I apologize to the lady and the public. I also feel sorry for the bad influence on Beijing Symphony Orchestra," he said in a statement in Russian.
Vedernikov, 46, principal cellist at the Beijing Symphony Orchestra (BSO), was traveling on the D8 train from Shenyang, Liaoning Province, to the capital on Monday evening, when he upset the female passenger sitting in front of him by putting his feet on the back of her seat.
In a four-minute video of the incident, uploaded to the Internet, the unidentified woman remonstrated with Vedernikov, who refused to remove his feet, saying she was giving his feet a massage. He then cursed her with insulting language when she told him he should be ashamed of himself. A police officer called to the scene seemed to misunderstand what had happened, and said: "Knock it off. He's an artist."
BSO told the Global Times yesterday that they learned of the incident on Wednesday evening, and had been in contact with Vedernikov yesterday afternoon, as he had been on vacation for a few days.
"He has acknowledged what he did on the train, and shows regret for the negative impact that his behavior has brought," said a BSO staff member.
Vedernikov must take responsibility for his behavior and is going to be suspended from the next performance, said BSO, who added that he does not speak Chinese. Vedernikov was unavailable for comment, BSO said.
Anger from Chinese Web users over this incident, and another case in which a British man on a tourist visa was detained by police on charges of molesting a young Chinese woman in Beijing last week, has been running high.
"I'm too angry with foreigners like him, and the country should have policies to govern foreigners who are in China," wrote Jiong Maomao on Sina Weibo, an example of one of the milder comments.
A local resident, surnamed Guo, 37, who works as a banker, told the Global Times that it is an individual case, and people should not have nationalist feelings.
"It is about personal qualities," he said.
On Monday, Beijing police announced a crackdown on the "three illegal foreigners," to target those who had overstayed their visa, were working without the appropriate visa, or had entered China illegally. Despite rumors in local media of a connection between last week's alleged sexual assault and the 100-day visa campaign, Municipal Public Security Bureau spokesman, Zi Xiangdong, this week denied that there was any relationship between the two events.
Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor with Peking University, urged caution.
"It's just an isolated case, and it should not be magnified or other meanings attached to it, which may trigger conflicts between different ethnicities," Xia said yesterday.
"Cases like this attract public attention easily because they arouse national feelings very easily. Web users are also concerned with disputes between Chinese and foreigners," Xia said.
As the nation becomes stronger and more foreigners come here, relationships between Chinese and foreigners should be more harmonious and tolerant, Xia noted.
Li Xiangping, a sociology professor with East China Normal University in Shanghai, said that if cases like this are badly dealt with, and emotions become inflamed, it may stir up Chinese people's nationalistic feelings.
"Anyone who doesn't follow another country's customs or breaks laws should be blamed or punished," said Li.
"We're living in a globalized world where citizens' ethics and etiquette is what everyone should abide by, it doesn't matter which country you live in," said Li.
Yesterday's douchebag laowai on the train has quickly overtaken last week's British rapist to become Laowai Public Enemy #1 after netizens identified him as Oleg Vedernikov (奥列克·维捷尔尼科夫 / Олег Ветреников), the principal cellist of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. Full story
Internet search giant Baidu and popular forum mop.com jointly launched a campaign with Sina Weibo yesterday, calling on Internet users to expose bad behavior by foreigners in China. Full story