It's been a tough year for Russia's embattled postal service.
First there was the 500-ton backlog of international parcels that fueled public frustration with the Russian Post, reputed for its sluggishness, and led to the sacking of its chief executive in April.
Then, a string of video clips emerged online capturing post-office employees at their worst.
The latest embarrassment came last week in the form of an amateurish musical clip that has sparked derisive snickering on the Internet.
Kira Sheveleva, a postal worker in the Siberian town of Bely Yar, shot the video several months ago for an employee-of-the-year contest.
Although the young woman was disqualified for her manifest lack of musical talent, her entry was nonetheless published online, much to the anger of postal authorities.
A spokeswoman said the clip had been released without permission from either the Russian Post or Sheveleva and said the state-run company would seek compensation from the culprit.
The clip was eventually taken down from YouTube.
Copies, however, are still on view
and continue to draw stinging comments:
"So that's why the mail goes so slowly, they are shooting clips and singing," one viewer quips.
"Your song and what goes on in this video incites suicide," reads another comment.
To add insult to injury, Sheveleva's performance is proving more popular than the official musical clip
released last year by the Russian Post.
That clip, extolling the virtues of postal workers in the central city of Tambov, has gathered a little over 190,000 hits in almost a year:
Sheveleva's original video, posted on June 21, was viewed more than 200,000 times in just four days before it was removed.
Two other clips illustrating the Russian Post's questionable customer service have also gone viral in recent weeks.
One of them
shows what appears to be an employee unceremoniously hurling parcels onto the ground from a train carriage at a railway station in Novosibirsk.
Posted on June 17, the clip has already been viewed more than 400,000 times.
Another video shows a group of female postal workers in a town close to Moscow cursing at a customer, throwing him out of the post office, and then chasing him down the street with a broom.
The man, an ethnic minority, explains that he came to the post office armed with a camera after employees there refused to register his cousin at his home, demanding that he present a color copy of a document rather than the black-and-white one that he had brought.
In that video
, filmed last year but published in mid-March, a postal worker eventually hurls the broom at him, telling him he is "not a human being and certainly not a man" and calling him a "piece of shit."
The clip has already gathered more than 800,000 views and thousands of comments.
Russians have long called for a reform of their country's creaking postal system.
But the Russian Post says it is dramatically underfunded, with 70 percent of its 42,000 branches currently recording losses.
It blames much of its woes on a dramatic increase in traffic in recent years due to the growing number of Russians ordering products online.
Last year, Russia's postal service delivered as many as 17 million packages purchased online, up from just 2.3 million in 2009.
-- Claire Bigg