In the early hours of 25 December, a Russian Defence Ministry plane carrying 93 people, including 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble Choir, went down off the coast of Sochi, Russia while en route to Latakia, Syria for a Christmas celebration with troops deployed at a military base. The plane crashed with no survivors. The choir performed along with t.A.T.u. as interval act at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow.
According to investigators and officials, there are no survivors. Today, Russia holds an official day of mourning to commemorate the victims.
The Alexandrov Ensemble Choir is the official choir of the Russian armed forces and one of the two choirs that can carry the title Red Army Choir. It has a repertoire of over 2,000 songs and is well-embedded in Russia's rich cultural heritage. Until now, the choir was composed of 186 people.
2009 interval performance
The choir performed alongside t.A.T.u., the hit duo that represented Russia in 2003, in the interval act of the first Semi-Final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. Together they performed Not Gonna Get Us, one of t.A.T.u.'s biggest hits.
Not on board
Vadim Ananiev, one of the choir's lead singers, did not board the plane, as his wife just recently gave birth to their child. He briefly addressed the media yesterday afternoon:
Shortly after the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, the choir expressed its interest to represent Russia at the 2017 contest in Kyiv.
According to media sources, three news crews were also on board the plane, including a three-member crew from EBU Member Broadcaster Channel One Russia.
Our thoughts are with the relatives, friends and fans of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy.