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Russian (Русский язык)

Russian is an Eastern Slavonic language closely related to Ukrainian and Belarusian with about 277 million speakers mainly in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. It is also spoken in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Finland, Mongolia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Israel, Afghanistan, the USA, Canada and a number of countries.

The earliest known writing in Russia dates from the 10th century and was found at Novgorod. The main languages written on them in an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet were Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic. There are also some texts in Finnish, Latin and Greek.

Russian started appearing in writing regularly during the reign of Peter the Great (a.k.a. Peter I) (1672-1725) who introduced a revised alphabet and encouraged authors to use a literary style closer to their spoken language. The dialect of Moscow was used as the basis for written Russian.

Russian literature started to flower during the 19th century when Tolstoi, Dostoyevskii, Gogol and Pushkin were active. During the Soviet era knowledge of the Russian language was wide spread though the subjects authors could write about were restricted.

Russian alphabet (русский алфавит)

1708 version

The 1708 verison of the Cyrillic alphabet

The letters in blue had fallen out of use by the 1800 century. The letters in red were eliminated in the 1918 reform.

1918 version

The 1918 version of Cyrillic alphabet

Russian alphabet with Latin transliteration and IPA transcription

Russian alphabet with Latin transliteration and IPA transcription

There are a number of transliteration schemes for Russian. Further details can be found at:

Notes of the pronunciation of Russian

Cursive Russian alphabet

This is a version of the cursive handwritten Russian alphabet. A few letters have quite different shapes when written in this way.

Cursive Russian alphabet

Sample text in Russian

Все люди рождаются свободными и равными в своем достоинстве и правах. Они наделены разумом и совестью и должны поступать в отношении друг друга в духе братства.

Cursive version

Cursive version of the Russian sample text


Vse ljudi roždajutsya svobodnymi i ravnymi v svoem dostoinstve i pravakh. Oni nadeleny razumom i sovest'ju i dolžny postupat' v otnošenii drug druga v dukhe bratstva.

A recording of this text by Yuri from Belarus

A recording of this text by Max Bollinger

Russian voiceover audio by


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)


Information about the Russian language

Online Russian lessons

Russian Sets - news stories in Russian

Learn Russian

Information about Russian | Russian phrases | Russian idioms | Tower of Babel in Russian | Russian links | My Russian learning experiences | Russian learning materials

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet