More than a year after the event, the truth has come trickling out: It was, in fact, an exploded torpedo, not a collision with a Western sub or a World War II mine, that resulted in the tragic sinking of the Kursk. In addition, it now appears that 23 soldiers may have survived in the belly of the submarine for as many as three days after the initial catastrophe, confirming the worst nightmares of the tragedy's initial days.
Over the past year, the government prosecutors have effectively demolished the lies and flimsy arguments of the admiralty about the Kursk accident. It is evident that the accident happened due to the incompetence of senior officers, and the rescue effort was doomed to fail because of similar callousness. President Vladimir Putin made a point of cleansing the admiralty itself, and almost every officer involved has been made to pay or chew his words and tell the truth.
Putin's behavior after the sinking itself drew the wrath of the mass media. Sometime during the post-Kursk trauma, he decided that it is best for problems to be addressed, for truth to be told and those at fault to be punished.
It should also be noted that, for all the often-justified criticism Russia has drawn for human-rights abuses in Chechnya, the country is now sending prosecutors that is, overseers who are supposed to identify such abuses and bring the perpetrators to justice along with its sweep and other military operations. It is not standard military practice to send such people along with military operations, given the specific task of ferreting out violations performed during those operations. It is not something France did in Algeria or the United States in Vietnam or Afghanistan.
There are almost weekly burials of Kursk sailors, and families and colleagues of those sailors are still going through a painful process of reconciling to the truth of their losses. But in all that, Russian is finally seeing the dawn of a new policy when government and prosecutors go a great distance and expense to tell the truth.
And it is only the truth that will help the Russians reconcile the horrors of the Soviet legacy.