MOSCOW - Military and civilian officials unveiled a bronze monument to the crew of the Kursk nuclear submarine in Moscow on Monday, marking the second anniversary of the explosion that sank the vessel in one of Russia's most devastating post-Soviet disasters.
The crewmen's weeping relatives and other mourners gathered in churches and cemeteries across Russia to pay tribute to the 118 seamen who were killed, while Russia's Northern Fleet lowered its flags to half-mast.
In the arctic village of Vidyayevo, from which the Kursk departed on its final, doomed voyage, officials unveiled a black granite memorial. Local residents threw red carnations into the murky sea.
At the Moscow ceremony, a brass band played under hazy summer skies as naval officers marched in lockstep and laid giant wreaths near a statue of a huge bronze sailor standing over a submarine plunging into the ocean depths. The new monument, in the courtyard of the city's Armed Forces Museum, was dedicated to those "killed carrying out their military duty."
Galina Loginova, whose son Sergei was one of the sailors killed on the Kursk, stood nearby with a handful of carnations. She was one of about a dozen family members who attended the ceremony.
"We're satisfied with what they've done here, so it all won't be forgotten," Loginova said, struggling to hold back tears. "But we're not satisfied with the official account of what happened."
The Kursk - one of Russia's largest and most advanced submarines - was felled by two powerful explosions during exercises in the Barents Sea. Russia's top prosecutor announced last month that a leaky torpedo propellant - hydrogen peroxide - had caused the explosion, closing the books on the lengthy official investigation.
The Russian navy has withdrawn from service all missiles of the type that exploded on the Kursk, but many relatives say the government hasn't revealed the full truth about what caused the explosion.
An international salvage operation raised the bulk of the Kursk last fall and recovered the bodies of 115 crew members. Russian officials have said they will scrap the Kursk carcass and dismantle the submarine's twin nuclear reactors.
They also plan to blow up remnants of the mangled bow of the Kursk, which was left behind on the ocean floor out of fear it could have destabilized the lifting operation. The bow will be blown up later this month, the Interfax-Military news agency reported Monday.