In their longing to bring honesty to their past, the Soviet people seem ready to rub out almost any lie.

First they denounced Stalin; more recently they have been assailing Lenin.

Now, in another sign of how far glasnost has come, a Russian cult has sprung up around the memory of a ruler long reviled: Czar Nicholas II, last of the Romanovs.Near the city of Sverdlovsk, some 870 miles east of Moscow, a crude iron cross now marks the spot where Czar Nicholas, his family, his physician and three servants were executed by firing squad in 1918.

A Soviet newspaper has confirmed what was widely known (and what Soviet communists for 70 years had denied): That the killings were ordered by Lenin himself.

This evidence has given new momentum to the small movement inside the Soviet Union that is seeking to honor the memory of Czar Nicholas.

Prayer meetings are held at the execution site; there is talk of someday constructing a large church near the site as a memorial.

A Russian Orthodox archbishop has even predicted that Czar Nicholas II may someday be declared a saint!

The Russian desire to memorialize the last czar gives a lift to the idea that history can be remade in the direction of greater honesty.

Just as pseudo-historians can warp understanding of the past, by destroying and selectively interpreting evidence, determined candor can help square old distortions with known facts.

Such candor, by helping people come to terms with their past, can hasten the collapse of communist dogma that distorted Soviet realities for so long.