The Russian language traces its origins back to ancient Russian, one of the first Slavic languages, an ancestor to contemporary Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian. Though all these languages belong to one Slavic group of languages which explains their similarity, Russian differs from the above mentioned by its phonetical, morphological and lexical peculiarities.
Written Russian is based on Cyrillic script. It originates from Ancient Rus. The Ostromirovo Gospel (1056) and Izborniki (1073) were the earliest books written in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.
Great impulse to the development of the modern Russian language was given by the industrial revolution and technical progress during 18th century. It is also the period of foundation of Russian literature. Russian folklore became the basic material for creativity of Russian writers and poets. One of the most famous figures of that time — Alexander Pushkin — united in his works different language tendencies. Those works have become the masterpieces of standard literary Russian. We can find their further development in the works of outstanding writers such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev and others.
The foundation and subsequent influence of the Russian State on world history assisted in spreading Russian all over the world, especially in European countries.
The foundation of the USSR, where Russian was used as a means of international communication made it possible to be understood on the whole territory of former socialist countries with a population over 250 million people.
The long period of the ‘cold war’ attracted the world’s attention to this country and arose interest in the ‘mysterious Russian Soul’. The unique possibility to communicate with the ‘threatening Russian bear’ was — and still is — the Russian language.
The 21st century, with modern economical and political reforms lead Russia and the former socialist countries to a new level of development. The Russian language helps in scientific, economical and cultural communication, creating new interest and importance in its study. Russian is taught in more than 100 countries of the world.
Nowadays Russian is one of the most wide-spread languages of the world. It is used as one of the six official working languages in the UN and many other international organizations.
The Government of Russia takes great care in popularizing the Russian language all over the world. According to a presidential decree 2007 was proclaimed the Year of the Russian language in the world. Within the framework of this project, the campaign under the slogan ‘We recommend Russian’ was developed in many countries. It was good advertising for and a measure of importance of the Russian language vis-a-vis modern life and progress.