Russia mourns death of its most famous choir in Black Sea air disaster
26 December 2016

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has declared Monday as a day of national mourning after a military plane crashed over the Black Sea on Sunday The Tu-154 plane - carrying soldiers, members of the famed "Red Army choir" music ensemble and reporters - was heading for Syria.

All those on board are feared dead after Sunday's crash.  

On Monday, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said that terrorism was not "among the main versions" of the possible causes of the crash. He reiterated that investigators were looking into whether a pilot error or technical fault may have brought down the aircraft. The minister earlier stressed that it was too early to speculate on possible crash causes.

The plane disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi's Adler airport at 05:25 (02:25 GMT), heading for Latakia in Syria, the defence ministry said.

The flight had originated in Moscow and landed in Sochi for refuelling.

It was carrying 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble, popularly known as the Red Army Choir, who were to perform for Russian troops in Syria. The Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian armed forces. It was founded in 1928 during the Soviet era. The group also includes an orchestra and dancers It takes its name from its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who wrote the music to the national anthem of the Soviet Union.

source; with BBC and other agencies