Of all the languages of Russia, Russian is the only official language at the national level. There are 35 different languages which are considered official languages in various regions of Russia, along with Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today.
Russian was the sole official language of the Russian Empire which existed until 1917. During the Soviet period, the policy toward the languages of the various other ethnic groups fluctuated in practice. The state helped develop alphabets and grammar for various languages across the country that had previously been lacking a written form. Though each of the constituent republics had its own official language, the unifying role, and superior status was reserved for Russian.
Russian lost its status in many of the new republics that arose following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. In Russia, however, the dominating status of the Russian language continued. Today, 97% of the public school students of Russia receive their education only or mostly in Russian, even though Russia is made up of approximately 80% ethnic Russians.
Although Russian is the only federally official language of the Russian Federation, there are several other officially recognized languages within Russia's various constituencies – article 68 of the Constitution of Russia only allows the various republics of Russia to establish official (state) languages other than Russian. This is a list of the languages that are recognized as official (state) in constitutions of the republics of Russia:
|Language||Language family||Federal subject(s)||Source|
|Bashkir||Turkic||Bashkortostan||; see also regional law|
|Crimean Tatar||Turkic||Republic of Crimea[a]|||
|Hill Mari, Meadow Mari||Uralic||Mari El|||
|Ukrainian||Indo-European||Republic of Crimea[a]|||
The Constitution of Dagestan defines "Russian and the languages of the peoples of Dagestan" as the state languages, though no comprehensive list of the languages was given.[dubious ] In the project of the "Law on the languages of the Republic of Dagestan" 32 languages are listed.
Karelia is the only republic of Russia with Russian as the only official language. However, there exists the special law about state support and protection of the Karelian, Vepsian and Finnish languages in the republic.
The federal law "On the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation"  allows the federal subjects to establish additionally official languages in the areas where minority groups live. This is the case, for example, of the Kazakh language in Altai Republic.
As a result of mass migration to Russia from the former USSR republics (especially from the Caucasus and Central Asia) many non-indigenous languages are spoken by migrant workers, among them most prominent are (from 2010 Census, in thousands):
However, many migrant workers were not counted in the Census and many work illegally, so these numbers may be much greater. Compare 2.4 million Uzbek citizens and 1.2 million Tajik citizens entered Russia in 2014.[original research?]
There are many endangered languages in Russia. Some are considered to be near extinction and put on the list of endangered languages in Russia, and some may have gone extinct since data was last reported. On the other hand, some languages may survive even with few speakers.
|"Can speak freely":|
|From 1775 respondents aged 15-29, November 2006|
|"Know enough to read newspapers":|
|Ukrainian, Belarusian and other Slavic languages||19%|
|Other European languages||10%|
|From 2100 respondents of every age, January 2005|
Knowledge of at least one foreign language is predominant among younger and middle-aged population. Among aged 18–24 38% can read and "translate with a dictionary", 11% can freely read and speak. Among aged 25–39 these numbers are 26% and 4% respectively.
Knowledge of a foreign language varies among social groups. It is most appreciable (15-18%) in big cities with 100,000 and more inhabitants, while in Moscow it rises up to 35%. People with higher education and high economical and social status are most expected to know a foreign language.
The new study by Levada-Center in April 2014 reveals such numbers:
|Can speak freely at least one language:|
|Can speak a foreign language but with difficulty||13|
|Do not speak a foreign Language at all||70|
|From 1602 respondents from 18 and older, April 2014|
The age and social profiling are the same: knowledge of a foreign language is predominant among the young or middle-aged population with higher education and high social status and who live in big cities.
Every year the Russian Ministry of Education and Science publishes statistics on the languages used in schools. In 2014/2015 absolute majority (13.1 million or 96%) of 13.7 million Russian students used Russian as a medium of education. Around 1.6 million or 12% students studied their (non-Russian) native language as a subject. The most studied languages are Tatar, Chechen and Chuvash with 347, 253, 107 thousand students respectively.
The most studied foreign languages in 2013/2014 were (students in thousands):
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