The biggest difference now seems to be that the Russian propaganda machine has been successful in influencing the Russian public. I remember when no one would take Soviet newspapers and television programs seriously — if anything, one would assume that the media are lying and spinning the facts. Now, the Russian public fully trusts its leader, Mr. Putin, and is almost fully supportive of his actions. News reports from almost all sources that do not agree with the official line are dismissed as lies and attempts by the U.S. State Department to shed bad light on the beloved, almost mystical leader. A very small sliver of opposition is branded as an enemy of the state, and their point of view does not make it to any widely read newspaper or TV station. Opposition radio station Echo of Moscow has been struggling to keep its independence under new owners Gazprom Media, Russia's largest media group, while western media is being pushed out of the country.