Russians (русские, russkiye) are an East Slavs ethnic group native to Eastern Europe. The majority of Russians inhabit the nation state of Russia, while notable minorities exist in other former Soviet Union states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Baltic states. A large Russian diaspora also exists all over the world, with notable numbers in the United States, Germany, Israel, and Canada. Russians are the most numerous ethnic group in Europe.
The Russians share many cultural traits with their fellow East Slavs counterparts, specifically Belarusians and Ukrainians. They are predominantly Orthodox Christians by religion. The Russian language is official in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and also spoken as a secondary language in many former Soviet states.
The name of the Russians derives from the Rus' people (supposedly Varangians). According to the most prevalent theory, the name Rus, like the Finnish name for Sweden ( Ruotsi), is derived from an Old Norse term for "the men who row" ( rods-) as rowing was the main method of navigating the rivers of Eastern Europe, and that it could be linked to the Swedish coastal area of Roslagen ( Rus-law) or Roden, as it was known in earlier times.
Outside archaeological remains, little is known about the predecessors to Russians in general prior to 859 AD when the Primary Chronicle starts its records.The Primary Chronicle is a history of the Ancient Rus' from around 850 to 1110, originally compiled in Kiev about 1113 It is thought that by 600 AD, the Slavs had split linguistically into South Slavs, West Slavs, and eastern branches. The eastern branch settled between the Southern Bug and the Dnieper Rivers in present-day Ukraine; from the 1st century AD through almost the turn of the millennium, they spread peacefully northward to the Baltic region region, forming the Dregovichs, Radimichs and Vyatichs Slavic tribes on the Baltic substratum, and therefore experiencing changed language features such as vowel reduction. Later, both Belarusians and South Russians formed on this ethnic linguistic ground.Pivtorak. Formation and dialectal differenciaton of the Old Rus language. 1988
From the 6th century onwards, another group of Slavs moved from Pomerania to the northeast of the Baltic Sea, where they encountered the Varangians of the Rus' Khaganate and established the important regional center of Novgorod. The same Slavic ethnic population also settled the present-day Tver Oblast and the region of Beloozero. With the Uralic substratum, they formed the tribes of the Krivichs and of the Ilmen Slavs.
[[File:Russians ethnic 94.jpg|left|thumb|200px|Ethnic Russians in former Soviet Union states in 1994]]
After the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War starting in 1917, many Russians were forced to leave their homeland fleeing the Bolshevik regime, and millions became refugees. Many white emigre were participants in the White movement, although the term is broadly applied to anyone who may have left the country due to the change in regime.
Today the largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside Russia live in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 3.8 million), Belarus (about 785,000), Latvia (about 520,000) with the most Russian settlement out of the Baltic States which includes Lithuania and Estonia, Uzbekistan (about 650,000) and Kyrgyzstan (about 419,000).
Over a million Russian Jews emigrated to Israel during and after the Refusenik movements; some brought ethnic Russian relatives along with them. Over a million Russian-speaking immigrants live in Israel,. Haaretz.com. 10/02/2008. around two-thirds of them Jewish. Q&A Lily Galili on 'The Russians in Israel'. Haaretz.com There are also small Russian communities in the Balkans, including Lipovans in the Danube delta," Saving the souls of Russia's exiled Lipovans". The Daily Telegraph. April 9, 2013. Central European nations such as Germany and Poland, as well Russians settled in China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. These communities may identify themselves either as Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying degrees.
Latvia and Estonia during the Soviet era, including their descendants born in these countries, mostly Russians, became Statelessness after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and were provided only with an option to acquire naturalised citizenship. The language issue is still contentious, particularly in Latvia, where ethnic Russians have protested against plans to liquidate education in minority languages, including Russian. Since 1992, Estonia has naturalized some 137,000 residents of undefined citizenship, mainly ethnic Russians. 136,000, or 10 percent of the total population, remain without citizenship. Both the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as the Russian government, expressed their concern during the 1990s about minority rights in several countries, most notably Latvia and Estonia. In Moldova, the Transnistria region (where 30.4% of population is Russian) broke away from government control amid fears the country would soon reunite with Romania. In June 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the plan to introduce a national policy aiming at encouraging ethnic Russians to immigrate to Russia.
Canada, Australia and the United States. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and South Beach, Staten Island in New York City is an example of a large community of recent Russian and Russian Jews immigrants. Other examples are Sunny Isles Beach, a northern suburb of Miami, and in West Hollywood of the Los Angeles area.
At the same time, many ethnic Russians from former Soviet territories have emigrated to Russia itself since the 1990s. Many of them became refugees from a number of states of Central Asia and Caucasus (as well as from the separatist Chechen Republic), forced to flee during political unrest and hostilities towards Russians.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917, many Russians who were identified with the White army moved to China — most of them settling in Harbin and Shanghai." The Ghosts of Russia That Haunt Shanghai". The New York Times. 21 September 1999. By the 1930s, Harbin had 100,000 Russians. Many of these Russians had to move back to the Soviet Union after World War II. Today, a large group of people in northern China can still speak Russian as a second language.
Russians ( eluosizu) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China (as the Russ); there are approximately 15,600 Russian Chinese living mostly in northern Xinjiang, and also in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang.
Russian culture is varied and unique in many respects. It has a rich history and a long tradition in all of the arts, especially in fields of literature and philosophy, classical music and Russian ballet,
Russian literature is known for such notable writers as Aleksandr Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, Joseph Brodsky, Maxim Gorky, Vladimir Nabokov, Mikhail Sholokhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Andrei Platonov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Varlam Shalamov. Russians also gave the classical music world some very famous composers, including Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and his contemporaries, the Mighty Handful, including Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. In the 20th-century Russian music was credited with such influential composers as Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinski, Georgy Sviridov, and Alfred Schnittke.
]] Russian ( , transliteration: , ) is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages languages. Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages and is one of three (or, according to some authorities, four) living members of the East Slavic languages, the others being Belarusian, Ukrainian and Rusyn language.
Examples of Old East Slavonic are attested from the 10th century onwards, and while Russian preserves much of East Slavonic grammar and a Common Slavonic word base, modern Russian exhibits a large stock of borrowed international vocabulary for politics, science, and technology.
, the so-called soft and hard sounds. This distinction is found in most consonant and is one of the most distinguishing features of the language. Another important aspect is the vowel reduction of unstressed , not unlike a similar process in English language. Stress in Russian is often described as "unpredictable": it can fall on almost any syllable, and this is one of the difficult aspects for foreign language learners.
Due to the status of the Soviet Union as a super power, Russian gained a great political importance in the second half of the 20th century. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations. All astronauts working in the International Space Station are required to master Russian.
According to data published in the journal «Language Monthly» (№ 3, 1997), approximately 300 million people around the world at the time mastered the Russian language (making it the 5th most popular language in the world by total number of speakers), while 160 million considered Russian their native language (making it the 7th in the world by number of native speakers). The total number of Russian speakers in the world in the 1999 assessment was about 167 million, with about 110 million people speaking Russian as a second language.
Prior to 1991, Russian was the language of international communication of the USSR and the most common foreign language taught in schools in the countries of the Eastern Bloc in Central Europe. It continues to be used in the countries that were formerly parts of the Soviet Union, both as the mother tongue of a significant percentage of the population, and as a language of international communication. While for various reasons residents of these countries might be unwilling to openly identify with Russian language, a major sociological study on the Russian language in the post-Soviet states conducted by Gallup, Inc., revealed that 92% of the survey respondents in Belarus, 83% in Ukraine, 68% in Kazakhstan and 38% in Kyrgyzstan chose Russian-language forms to complete the questionnaire for the survey (most notably, over forms in corresponding national languages).
In the U.S. state of New York in 2009, an amendment to the electoral law was adopted, according to which in all cities in the state having over a million people, all documents related to the election process should be translated into Russian (thus gaining equal status with Spanish, Korean, Filipino, Creole languages and three varieties of Chinese).
In places of compact residence of immigrants from the countries of the former USSR (Israel, Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia, etc.) Russian-language periodicals, radio and television channels are available, as well as Russian-language schools.
[[File:RedSquare SaintBasile (pixinn.net).jpg|thumb|180px|[[Saint Basil's Cathedral]] on the [[Red Square]], [[Moscow]]]]As of a different sociological surveys on religious adherence, from 41% to over 80% of the total population of Russia adhere to the Russian Orthodox ChurchOlga Filina (Ogonek Magazine). Mapping Russia's Religious Landscape. Russia and India Report. Retrieved 24-09-2012. Верю — не верю. "Ogonek", № 34 (5243), 27/08/2012. Retrieved 24-09-2012.. It has played a vital role in the development of Russian national identity. In other countries Russian faithful usually belong to the local Orthodox congregations which either have a direct connection (like the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, autonomous from the Moscow Patriarchate) or historical origin (like the Orthodox Church in America or a Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) with the Russian Orthodox Church.
Non-religious Russians may associate themselves with the Orthodox faith for cultural reasons. Some Russian people are Old Believers: a relatively small schismatic group of the Russian Orthodoxy that rejected the liturgical reforms introduced in the 17th century. Other schisms from Orthodoxy include which in the 18th century rejected secular government, the Russian Orthodox priests, icons, all church ritual, the Bible as the supreme source of divine revelation and the divinity of Jesus, and later emigrated into Canada. An even earlier sect were which formed in 1550 and rejected Czar's divine right to rule, icons, the Trinity as outlined by the Nicene Creed, Orthodox fasts, military service, and practices including Baptism.
Other world religions have negligible representation among ethnic Russians. The largest of these groups are Islam with over 100,000 followers from national minorities, and Baptists with over 85,000 Russian adherents. Others are mostly Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union various new religious movements have sprung up and gathered a following among ethnic Russians. The most prominent of these are Rodnovery, the revival of the Slavic native religion also common to other Slavs,Victor Shnirelman. "Christians! Go home": A Revival of Neo-Paganism between the Baltic Sea and Transcaucasia. Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2002. Another movement, very small in comparison to other new religions, is Vissarionism, a syncretism group with an Orthodox Christian background.
In science and technology, notable Russian scientists include Mikhail Kalashnikov (inventor and designer of the AK-47 assault rifle and PK machine gun), Dmitri Mendeleev, Nikolay Bogolyubov, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (a founding father of rocketry and astronautics), Andrei Kolmogorov, Ivan Pavlov, Nikolai Semyonov, Dmitri Ivanenko, Alexander Lodygin, Alexander Popov (one of inventors of radio), Nikolai Zhukovsky, Alexander Prokhorov and Nikolay Basov (co-inventors of laser), Vladimir Zworykin, Lev Pontryagin, Sergei Sobolev, Pavel Yablochkov, Aleksandr Butlerov, Andrei Sakharov, Dmitry Ivanovsky, Sergey Korolyov and Mstislav Keldysh (creators of the Soviet space program), Aleksandr Lyapunov, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky, Andrei Tupolev, Yuri Denisyuk (the first practicable method of holography), Mikhail Lomonosov, Vladimir Vernadsky, Pyotr Kapitsa, Igor Sikorsky, Ludvig Faddeev, Konstantin Novoselov, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, and Nikolai Trubetzkoy.
The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, was a Russian, and the first artificial satellite to be put into outer space, Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union and was developed mainly by Russian aerospace engineer Sergey Korolyov.
Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Pushkin, and many more, reached a high status in world literature. Prominent Russian novelists such as Tolstoy in particular, were important figures and have remained internationally renowned. Some scholars have described one or the other as the greatest novelist ever."Russian literature." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 16 July 2007 <>.
Russian composers who reached a high status in the world of music include Igor Stravinsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergei Prokofiev, Modest Mussorgsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Russian people played a crucial role in the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Russia's casualties in this war were the highest of all nations, and numbered more than 20 million dead (Russians composed 80% of the 26.6 million people lost by the USSR), which is about half of all World War II casualties and the vast majority of Allied casualties. Leaders mourn Soviet wartime dead, BBC News According to the United Kingdom historian Richard Overy, the Eastern Front included more combat than all the other European fronts combined. The Wehrmacht suffered 80% to 93% of all of its total World War II combat casualties on the Eastern Front.