When I talk to most Americans about Russia, their responses reflect a deep assumption that somehow everything in the country are personally manipulated by Vladimir Putin. They seem to see him as a puppet master, controlling the entire country like a marionette-- in the mode of how they saw the old Soviet Premiers.
This article, written by a really remarkable Russian journalist (and the most recent journalist to be brought to the US by PKF), goes some distance to dispelling this misconception:
"Rules of the Game" by Roman Shleinov
The New Statesman
June 7, 2007