16:42 GMT08 March 2021
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    Tu-154 Crash in Black Sea (86)

    In the early hours of Sunday morning, a Russian Tu-154 aircraft en route to Syria crashed in the Black Sea. All 92 people onboard are feared dead, including 64 musicians of the renowned Alexandrov Ensemble, an official choir of the Russian Army. Speaking to Sputnik China, people explained why they feel Russia's loss as if it were their own.

    Russian investigators are continuing their probe into Sunday's deadly crash. December 26 has been declared a day of mourning in Russia and neighboring Belarus.

    National Pain
    © Sputnik
    The Alexandrov Ensemble was en route to Syria from Moscow when it crashed in the Black Sea off the coast of Sochi, shortly after refueling at an airport in the resort city of Adler. Syrian President Bashar Assad, who received news of the plane's loss with "great sadness," said that the Russian musicians were traveling to Syria "to share with us and the people of Aleppo the joy of victory and holidays."

    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 Guilan, a Beijing resident who attended a performance by the Alexandrov Ensemble during their visit to the Chinese capital, offered her own personal wishes of sympathy over the musicians' deaths. She has a special appreciation of Russian music, she said, and meets with like-minded people to sing Russian songs, including those sung by the famed Russian troupe.

    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."

    People pay tribute to passengers and crew members of Russian military Tu-154 plane crashed into the Black Sea, near a makeshift memorial outside the headquarters of the Alexandrov Ensemble, also known as the Red Army Choir, in Moscow, Russia December 25, 2016
    © REUTERS / Sergei Karpukhin
    People pay tribute to passengers and crew members of Russian military Tu-154 plane crashed into the Black Sea, near a makeshift memorial outside the headquarters of the Alexandrov Ensemble, also known as the Red Army Choir, in Moscow, Russia December 25, 2016

    "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.

    Tu-154 Crash in Black Sea (86)


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