The Tu-154 model plane, which belonged to the Russian defence ministry, crashed two minutes after leaving the southern city of Adler at 5.40am (2.40am GMT). There were no survivors.
The military plane was carrying soldiers, reporters and 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble who were to perform for Russian troops in Syria as part of New Year celebrations. Roman Valutov, 29, was in the list of the aircraft passengers, but did not board the doomed flight as his passport expired in July.
'I was going through immigration and the girl there said: 'Are you joking? Your passport expired back in July.''I hadn't realised. She told me to wait. I stood there worrying if I'd be allowed to fly, and in a few minutes I was told: 'You're not going anywhere.''I was nervous about the mistake over my passport, but I went home.'I was there at 3.30 am and afterwards people start calling me, asking if I was alive. I checked and found myself in the list of the dead.I was crying. My friends and relatives are shocked.'Soloist Vadim Ananyev, whose wife just delivered a baby and pleaded with him to remain at home to help, also avoided boarding the flight. The couple have three small children.
'I feel as if I were hit over the head. I still can't believe it. They are telling me now I was born with a silver spoon.'