Re: Boo, hiss
"Was the USSR actually being honest "
In the early days, no. It was clear from various monitoring sources that they had a number of fatal launch failures after Gagarin that they never mentioned in press releases.
But those same fatalities made russian spacecraft engineers cautious about craft designs. Unfortunately when political pressure got applied, you had things like the N1 disaster - something repeated on a smaller scale by Brazil a few years ago, managing to kill half that country's spaceprogram staff by having people working on a rocket that was being fuelled at the same time.