Russian nation is the basic population
of the Russian Federation (119865,9 thousand people), the most numerous
of Slavic tribes. Outside the Russian Federation they live in Ukraine,
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Byelorussia, Kirghizia, Latvia, Moldova,
Estonia, Azerbaijan, Tadjikistan, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Georgia,
Armenia, and also in USA, Canada, the countries of the Western Europe
etc. The Russian Language is of east group of Slavic languages of
Indo-European family of languages. Writing is on the basis of the
Russian alphabet which is going back to cyrillics. Religion is basically
The history of the Russians is very
much a history of territorial and ethnic expansion.
In the pre-Christian era, the region that is today called Russia,
was inhabited by a variety of nomadic tribes. The Slavic tribes
resided in the north. In the 6th c., they started migrating. Gradually
they evolved into three basic groups, from which with time different
with sub-groups would evolve; the western Slavs (Poles, Slovaks,
Czechs), southern Slavs (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Bulgars) and eastern
Slavs (Belarusians, Russians, Ukrainians). The eastern Slavs expanded
easily from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with Kiev and Novgorod
as the most important centres.
According to Russian tradition, the first Russian dynasty began
as warring Slavic tribes in 862 invited Rurik, a Scandinavian leader,
to rule over them. Under the Rurik dynasty, Russia expanded northeast
and northwest. Kiev soon became the centre of what is known as Kievan
Rus', which reached its imperial peak in the middle of the 11th
c. In 988, Prince Vladimir of the Kievan Rus' had decided to convert
the empire to Byzantine Orthodox Christianity instead of Roman Catholisism.
This contributed to isolate Russia from the West. This isolation
was furthered by the Mongol invasion which began in 1223. The Mongols
controled Russia during the two centuries when the Renaissance,
the Reformation and the commercial revolution spread across Western
Europe. Mongol rule also made the westernmost Russians flee farther
to the West to escape. These people eventually became known as Belarusians.
The people of Kiev also developed a separate culture and evolved
Russian, as well as Ukrainians and Byelorussians,
came from the ancient Russian nationality (9-13 centuries), existent
from East Slavic tribes during the period of disintegration of tribe
relations and creation of the ancient Russian state around Kiev.
In opinion of many researchers, the name 'Russian' goes back to
the name of one of Slavic tribe - Rodii, Rossy, or Rusy. Alongside
with the ancient self-name in 19 - beginning of 20 centuries the
name Velikorusy or Velikorossy was used.
Formation of Russian, or Great Russian, nationality took place
in severe struggle against the hardest Tatar yoke and during the
creation of the Russian centralized state around Moscow in 14-15
centuries. In 16-17 centuries borders of Russian state considerably
extended; at this time Russians began to occupy the Lower Volga
region, Ural, Northern Caucasus and Siberia. In 18-19 centuries
the further expansion of borders of the state was accompanied by
moving Russian into the Baltic, Black Sea region, Transcaucasia,
Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Far East. Russians came into close contact
with peoples living here, influenced them economically and culturally
and perceived achievements of their culture and skills of economy.
The Russian empire had now strecthed
beyond the original "Russian" areas and included many
other nationalities. This triggered a series of Russification campaigns
under Nicholas I and his successor Alexander II with the slogan
"Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality". In 1839 the Uniate
church of Ukraine and Belarusia was suppressed, and in the 1860s,
the state ordered that all teaching in public schools be conducted
in Russian and prohibited non-Russian newspapers and magazines.
In the second half of the century, Russian expansion in Caucasus
and Central Asia began again. By the mid-1860s, the Caucasians were
defeated, and 20 years later the Russians also controled Central
In the Far East, the city of Vladivostok was established in 1860
on the coast near the Korean border, after Russia gained the territory
between the Amur river and the Korean border through the Treaty
of Beijing the same year. The cost of these operations led the tsar
to sell Alaska to the USA for a ridiculously low amount of money.
With World War I and the Bolshevik revolution, Russia lost control
of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Ukraine, and parts
of the Caucasus, as established in the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
As the Bolsheviks gained the upper hand in 1919, they by force established
Soviet republics in Belarus, Ukraine (both in 1919), Azerbaijan,
Armenia (1920) and Georgia (1921). With World War II, the Soviet
Union regained most of the lost territories and pushed its sphere
of influence further west than ever before.
In the beginning of 20 century on fragments
of Russian Empire, the new state Soviet Union, united set of various
nationalities, was created. The most numerous nation, however, remained
Russians. In 1991 the USSR ceased its existence.
By virtue of specific conditions of development in different areas
of the country, in the middle of 19 century there was a number of
ethnographic groups among Russians. Largest of them, differing in
dialects of language and features in buildings, clothes, some ceremonies
etc., - northern and southern Velikorussy. A link between them -
middle great Russian group occupying the central area - part of
the Volga-Oka rivers land (including Moscow) and the Volga region;
it had in its language and culture both north and south great Russian
features. Smaller ethnographic groups of Russians - Pomors (on the
coast of the White sea), Meshera (in the northern part of Ryazanskaya
oblast), various groups of Cossacks and their descendants (on the
rivers of Don, Kuban, Ural, Terek, and also in Siberia); old believe
groups - "Polyaks" (in Altai), Semeyskiye (in Transbaikalia),
"Kamenshiki" (on the river Buhtarma in Kazakhstan); Russians
make up special groups in Far North (on the rivers Anadyrs, Indigirka,
Kolyma), apprehending many features of environmental peoples. Now
these ethnographic groups in many respects have lost the unique
features, because of a number of historic and political reasons.