Russia has been greeted with condolences from leaders around the world. China was among them. On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his "deep sympathy in the wake of this tragic event" to Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking to Chinese officials and ordinary people alike, Sputnik China discovered that the Chinese president's words were more than a polite formality. The Alexandrov Ensemble, widely known across Russia and the former Soviet Union, is also known and beloved in China, where it has performed many times over the years. The ensemble specializes in patriotic melodies, and songs about the Great Patriotic War. It is also known for its renditions of popular Chinese folk songs.
Wang sees the Alexandrov Ensemble not just as a highly professional musical collective in Russia, but as one of the best performance ensembles in the world. "The Alexandrov Ensemble is a kind of state treasure, which could be compared with a pearl on an imperial crown," she said.
"Its repertoire includes not only Russian music, but songs of other countries as well," she added. "When the Alexandrov Ensemble visited China, they performed the famous Chinese folk song The East is Red, Jasmine, and others. I watched these Russian artists performing in Beijing's Great Hall of the People."
Recalling Sunday's tragedy, Wang said that "as soon as I learned that part of the Alexandrov Ensemble had been on board, I felt an incredible sense of shock and grief…Although I did not meet them personally, my life is connected with Russia, and the Alexandrov Ensemble is my reference point…These artists have received recognition and affection around the world. I would like to offer their families and friends the very deepest condolences. Their voices and smiles will remain forever in our hearts."
Liu Guiyou, academic and former director of the Confucius Institute at the Russian State University for the Humanities, stressed that for historical reasons, and because of the growing Russian-Chinese friendship in recent years, many of the songs sung by the Alexandrov Ensemble are known by almost everyone in China.
"This is a collective that needs no introduction," Liu said. "Most people in China have heard their songs on television or on the radio; many have attended their concerts when they came to China. The Ensemble came to China often, and its performances have always been held before sold out venues."
"This is an outstanding Russian collective – the pride of the country," the academic added. "Our two peoples are bound by strong friendship. Therefore, the death of the artists from the Alexandrov Ensemble has become a great tragedy for many of my fellow countrymen," Liu concluded.