Russians (Russian: русские, russkiye) are an East Slavic ethnic
group native to Eastern Europe. The majority of
Russians inhabit the
nation state of Russia, while notable minorities exist in other former
Soviet 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.
Russians share many cultural traits with their fellow East Slavic
Belarusians and Ukrainians. They are
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.
2.2 Kievan Rus'
3.2 Former Soviet states
5 Notable achievements
6 See also
8 External links
There are two Russian words which are commonly translated into English
as "Russians". One is "русский" (russkiy), which most often
means "ethnic Russians". Another is "россияне" (rossiyane),
which means "citizens of Russia". The former word refers to ethnic
Russians, regardless of what country they live in and irrespective of
whether or not they hold Russian citizenship. Under certain
circumstances this term may or may not extend to denote members of
other Russian-speaking ethnic groups from Russia, or from the former
Soviet Union. The latter word refers to all people holding citizenship
of Russia, regardless of their ethnicity, and does not include ethnic
Russians living outside Russia. Translations into other languages
often do not distinguish these two groups.
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. The name Rus' would then have
the same origin as the Finnish and Estonian names for Sweden: Ruotsi
and Rootsi. According to other theories the name Rus' is derived
Proto-Slavic *roud-s-ь ( from *rъd-/*roud-/*rуd- root),
connected with red color (of hair) or from Indo-Iranian (ruxs/roxs
— «light-colored», «bright»).
See also: History of Russia
This section should include a summary of History of Russia. See
Wikipedia:Summary style for information on how to incorporate it into
this article's main text. (July 2016)
Further information: Rus' people
Russians formed from two groups of East Slavic tribes:
Northern and Southern. The tribes involved included the Krivichs,
Ilmen Slavs, Radimichs, Vyatiches and Severians. Genetic studies show
Russians do not differ significantly from
Ukrainians. Some ethnographers, like Zelenin, affirm that
more similar to
Belarusians and to
Ukrainians than southern Russians
are to northern Russians.
Russians in northern European
moderate genetic similarities with Uralic peoples, who lived
in modern north-central European
Russia and were partly assimilated by
Slavs as the
Slavs migrated northeastwards. Such Uralic peoples
included the Merya and the Muromians.
Outside archaeological remains, little is known about the predecessors
Russians in general prior to 859 AD when the Primary Chronicle
starts its records. It is thought[by whom?] that by 600 AD, the
Slavs had split linguistically into southern, western, 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, forming the Dregovich, Radimich and
tribes on the Baltic substratum, and therefore experiencing changed
language features such as vowel reduction. Later, both
Russians formed on this ethnic linguistic ground.
From the 6th century onwards, another group of
Slavs moved from
Pomerania to the northeast of the Baltic Sea, where they encountered
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.
Main article: Kievan Rus'
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July
East Slavic tribes and peoples, 8th-9th century
Principalities of Kievan Rus', 1220-1240. These principalities
included Vladimir-Suzdal, Smolensk, Chernigov or Ryazan, annexed by
the Duchy of
Moscow in 1521
Russia's Arctic coastline from the
White Sea to the
Bering Strait had
been explored and settled by Pomors, Russian settlers from Novgorod
Terek Cossacks of the north
Caucasus guarded the southern frontier
Three generations of a Russian family Kaganovs from Urals, ca. 1910.
Photo taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
The percentage of ethnic
Russians throughout the former Soviet Union
according to last censuses
In 2010, the world's Russian population was 129 million people of
which 86% were in Russia, 11.5% in the CIS and Baltic countries, with
a further 2.5% living in other countries.
See also: Demographics of Russia
Roughly 111 million ethnic
Russians live in Russia, 80% of whom live
in the European part of Russia, and 20% in the Asian part of the
Former Soviet states
Main article: Ethnic
Russians in post-Soviet states
Russians in former
Soviet Union states in 1994
This section should include a summary of Ethnic
post-Soviet states. See:Summary style for information on how
to incorporate it into this article's main text. (July 2016)
Main article: Russian diaspora
Russians historically migrated throughout the area of former
Russian Empire and Soviet Union, sometimes encouraged to re-settle in
borderlands by the Tsarist and later Soviet government. On some
occasions ethnic Russian communities, such as
Lipovans who settled in
Danube delta or Doukhobors in Canada, emigrated as religious
dissidents fleeing the central authority.
After the Russian Revolution and
Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War starting in 1917,
Russians were forced to leave their homeland fleeing the
Bolshevik regime, and millions became refugees. Many white émigrés
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
Lipovans in the Danube delta
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
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,
around two-thirds of them Jewish. There are also small Russian
communities in the Balkans, including
Lipovans in the Danube
delta, Central European nations such as
Germany and Poland, as
Russians settled in China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil,
Argentina and Australia. These communities may identify themselves
Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying
Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church in
Shanghai (c. 1948), whose 25,000-strong
Russian community was one of China's largest
People who had arrived in
Estonia during the Soviet era,
including their descendants born in these countries, mostly Russians,
became stateless 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
Russians have protested against plans to liquidate education in
minority languages, including Russian. Since 1992,
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
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,
Vladimir Putin announced the plan to introduce a
national policy aiming at encouraging ethnic
Russians to immigrate to
Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in Paris, the resting
place of many eminent Russian émigrés after 1917
Significant numbers of
Russians emigrated to Canada,
Australia and the
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and South Beach, Staten Island
New York City
New York City is an example of a large community of recent Russian
and Jewish Russian immigrants. Other examples are Sunny Isles Beach, a
northern suburb of Miami, and in
West Hollywood of the Los Angeles
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
Harbin and Shanghai. 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 and List of Russian people
See also: Category:Russian folk culture.
Vasilisa the Beautiful, by Ivan Bilibin. Russian fairy tale collected
Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki.
Russian culture originated from that of the East Slavs, who were
largely polytheists, and had a specific way of life in the wooded
areas of Eastern and Northern Europe. The Scandinavian Vikings, or
Varangians, also took part in forming the Russian identity and state
in the early
Kievan Rus' period of the late 1st millennium AD. The
Rus' accepted Christianity from the
Byzantine Empire in 988, and this
Russian culture for the next millennium, namely as a
synthesis of Slavic and
Byzantine cultures. After the fall of
Constantinople in 1453,
Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in
the world and claimed succession to the
Byzantine legacy in the form
Third Rome idea. At different points of its history, the
country was strongly influenced by European culture, and since the
reforms of Peter the Great
Russian culture largely developed in the
context of Western culture. For most of the 20th century, Marxist
ideology shaped the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, i.e.
the Russian SFSR, was the largest and leading part.
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
ballet, architecture and painting, cinema and animation, all
of which had considerable influence on world culture.
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.
gave the classical music world some very famous composers, including
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and his contemporaries, the Mighty Handful,
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.
Main article: Russian language
Russian has official status.
Russian is a regional or de facto working language
Russian (русский язык (help·info), transliteration:
Russkiy yazyk, [ˈruskʲɪj jɪˈzɨk]) is the most geographically
widespread language of
Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the
Slavic languages. Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European
languages and is one of three (or, according to some
authorities[who?], four) living members of the East Slavic languages,
the others being Belarusian, Ukrainian and Rusyn.
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
A group of Russian children, 1909. Sergei Mikhailovich
Russian has palatal secondary articulation of consonants, the
so-called soft and hard sounds. This distinction is found in most
consonant phonemes and is one of the most distinguishing features of
the language. Another important aspect is the reduction of unstressed
vowels, not unlike a similar process in English. 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
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
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
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
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
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
In places of compact residence of immigrants from the countries of the
USSR (Israel, Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia,
etc.) Russian-language periodicals, radio and television channels are
available, as well as Russian-language schools.
Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church and Religion in Russia
Saint Basil's Cathedral
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 Church. 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.
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 Doukhobors 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 Molokans 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 water
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,
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 Slavic nations, Another
movement, very small in comparison to other new religions, is
Vissarionism, a syncretic group with an Orthodox Christian background.
Main articles: Timeline of Russian inventions and technology records
and List of Russian inventors
Yuri Gagarin, first human in space (1961)
Russians have greatly contributed to the fields of sports, science and
technology, politics, business, and the arts.
In science and technology, notable Russian scientists include Mikhail
Kalashnikov (inventor and designer of the
AK-47 assault rifle
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
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
Yuri Denisyuk (the first practicable method of holography),
Mikhail Lomonosov, Vladimir Vernadsky, Pyotr Kapitsa, Igor Sikorsky,
Ludvig Faddeev, Konstantin Novoselov, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, and
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.
Vladimir Bekhterev, Russian neurologist and the father of objective
Russian Literature representatives like 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 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 (
80% of the 26.6 million people lost by the USSR), which is about half
World War II
World War II casualties and the vast majority of Allied
casualties. According to the British historian Richard Overy, the
Eastern Front included more combat than all the other European fronts
Wehrmacht suffered 80% to 93% of all of its total World
War II combat casualties on the Eastern Front.
European ethnic groups
List of Russian artists
^ Estimates range between 130 and 150 million. 111 million in the
Russian Federation (2010 census), about 16 million ethnic
post-Soviet states (8 M in Ukraine, 4.5 M in Kazakhstan, 1 M in
Belarus, 0.6 M Latvia, 0.6 M in Uzbekistan, 0.6 M in Kyrgyzstan. Up to
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страшные сказки о Церкви". Rusk.ru. 31 August
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^ "statistics". Adherents.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
^ Victor Shnirelman. "Christians! Go home": A Revival of Neo-Paganism
Baltic Sea and Transcaucasia. Journal of Contemporary
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^ Leaders mourn Soviet wartime dead, BBC News
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