When the USSR collapsed and Russia suddenly had to privatize everything, they set up all of their industries to be publicly traded companies, but then they fixed it in such a way that all or most of the stock ended up being controlled by the state.
For instance, the Soviet natural gas company was sold to a holding company and became Gazprom. It is technically owned by its shareholders; but practically all of the stock shares are owned by the Russian government.
The same principle applies to GM in the US. GM is publicly traded and owned by the shareholders. But over 60% of those shares are owned by the US government.
[Edited by Dhampy, 8/19/2010 2:05:19 PM]