descendant of the language used in Kievan Rus', a loose conglomerate of East Slavic tribes from the late 9th to the mid 13th centuries.From the point of view of spoken language, its closest relatives are Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn, the other three languages in the East Slavic languages.Russian is still seen as an important language for children to learn in most of the former Soviet republics.According to the 2010 census in Russia, Russian language skills were indicated by 138 million people (99.4% of the population), while according to the 2002 census – 142.6 million people (99.2% of the population).Until the 20th century, the language's spoken form was the language of only the upper noble classes and urban population, as Russian peasants from the countryside continued to speak in their own dialects.By the mid-20th century, such dialects were forced out with the introduction of the compulsory education system that was established by the Soviet government.In the 20th century, Russian was a mandatory language taught in the schools of the members of the old Warsaw Pact and in other countries that used to be satellites of the USSR.According to the Eurobarometer 2005 survey, fluency in Russian remains fairly high (20–40%) in some countries, in particular those where the people speak a Slavic language and thereby have an edge in learning Russian (namely, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria).
Written examples of Old East Slavonic are attested from the 10th century onward.
Over the course of centuries, the vocabulary and literary style of Russian have also been influenced by Western and Central European languages such as Greek, Latin, Polish, Dutch, German, French, Italian and English, According to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, Russian is classified as a level III language in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers, requiring approximately 1,100 hours of immersion instruction to achieve intermediate fluency.).
It arose in the beginning of the 18th century with the modernization reforms of the Russian state under the rule of Peter the Great, and developed from the Moscow (Middle or Central Russian) dialect substratum under the influence of some of the previous century's Russian chancellery language.
Significant Russian-speaking groups also exist in Western Europe.
These have been fed by several waves of immigrants since the beginning of the 20th century, each with its own flavor of language.