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The avenue was planted by the mayor of the town of Kursk earlier this year, to stand as a permanent reminder of the once close ties that existed between this southern town and Russia's most prestigious submarine, named in its honour.
Oblivious to the noise and the fumes, the town's growing community of Kursk widows claims to find the long walk among the trees calming. It is almost a year since their husbands died, when an unexplained explosion sent the nuclear submarine to the Arctic seabed. Lied to and treated with callous insensitivity by the Russian navy in the aftermath of the catastrophe, the sailors' widows remain bitterly suspicious of the government's capacity for honesty.
Why should we expect anything except more lies now? As the salvage mission begins, the families of the dead men are interested only in whether any bodies can be retrieved for burial and whether the question of how the tragedy happened will finally be answered. They have grave doubts on both fronts. Valentina Staroseltseva has chosen one of the birch trees to represent her son. She comes every few days to inspect its progress and talks to it as if it is, in fact, Dmitri.
At home she also talks to the photographs of the skinny year-old, arranged in a shrine in the corner of room where he used to sleep. She spends several hours a week rearranging a display of memorabilia, a test-tube of salt water from the sea where he died, a letter he sent her from the base, his huge naval overcoat.
When the Kursk was patrolling the oceans, its affiliation with the town was a source of great pride to the local administration. Local teenage boys were encouraged to apply to serve on board when the time came for their military service. Members of the now dead crew were invited to bring their families here on holiday. When state television announced last August that the submarine was in trouble, the news was greeted here with pain.