Russian NHL hockey legend Slava Fetisov is no stranger to political conflict, as his harrowing time on the Russian men's hockey team in 1980 is well-chronicled. Fetisov says the players were essentially imprisoned by Russian officials, forced to train at all hours of the day for what would end up being a memorable silver medal in the 1980 Olympic games.
In a HuffPost Live interview Thursday, the now 56-year-old Fetisov said comparing that old Russian regime to the one in place now is a mistake.
"It's very funny, I'm here doing different interviews and people still compare Russia to the Soviet Union. It's wrong," Fetisov told host Alyona Minkovski. "It's a totally different country now and more westernized right now. You can see the difference. It's not the Soviet Union. It's not people from different organizations [controlling] your life. You can do whatever you think is right for you."
Fetisov admitted things aren't peachy in his homeland. Russia has been criticized globally for its role in the conflict in Ukraine. Just last Friday, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a fierce of opponent of Moscow's involvement in Ukraine, was gunned down on a Moscow bridge.
Fetisov, though, encouraged Americans to go see the evidence for themselves.
"The American people should know it's Russia," he said. "Anybody can go there and walk in the street and talk to the people and realize that now it's a different country."