From Academic Kids

Russians (Russian:Русские - Russkiye) are an East Slavic ethnic group, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries.

The English term Russians is also used to refer to citizens of Russia, regardless of their ethnicity (see demographics of Russia for information on other nationalities inhabiting Russia); in Russian, this meaning is covered by the recently revived politically correct term Rossiyanin (Россиянин, plural Rossiyane). Ethnic Russians make up about 80% of the population of Russia.



Russians are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world with a population of about 145 million people worldwide. Roughly 116 million ethnic Russians live in Russia and 25 million more live in neighboring countries. A relatively small number of Russians, around 2 million, live elsewhere in the world, mostly in North America and Western Europe.


Russians are predominantly of the Orthodox Christian faith. More specifically, the vast majority of believers belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, which played an important role in the development of Russian national identity. Some Russians are Old Believers: a relatively small schismatic group of the Russian Orthodoxy that rejected the liturgical reforms introduced in the 17th century.

Despite continuing growth in religious observance since Soviet times, church attendance rates in Russia are still low.

Besides Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam enjoy special status in Russia, although they are practiced largely by non-Russian minorities.

Russians outside of Russia

The largest ethnic Russian diasporas outside of Russia live in former Soviet states such as Ukraine (about 10 million), Kazakhstan (about 5 million), the Baltic states (about 2 million), Belarus (about 1 million), Uzbekistan (about 1 million), Kyrgyzstan (about 600,000), and Moldova (about 500,000). There are also small Russian communities in the Balkans, Eastern and Central European nations such as the Czech Republic, as well as in China and Latin America. These communities may identify themselves either as Russians or citizens of these countries, or both, to varying degrees.

Although not among the largest immigrant groups, significant numbers of Russians emigrated to Canada, Australia, and the United States. Brighton Beach, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is an example of a large community of recent Russian immigrants. 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 collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, some ethnic Russians complained of discrimination in a number of newly independent countries. The government of Latvia, with the largest share of ethnic Russians in the Baltics, responded to these charges by claiming that many of the ethnic Russians or their ancestors had arrived as part of a Soviet-era colonization and deliberate Russification by changing the countries' ethnic balance. It should be noted, however, that among the many Russians who arrived during the Soviet era were those who were there for economic reasons, or in some cases, because they were ordered there.

In line with this thinking, in post-independence Latvia and Estonia, many Baltic Russians (technically, anyone whose ancestors arrived after the first Soviet occupation in 1940) were not granted automatic citizenship, but were first required to pass a test demonstrating knowledge of the national language, as well as knowledge of the country's history and customs. The language issue is still contentious, particularly in Latvia, where ethnic Russians have protested against plans to require 60 percent of school subjects to be taught in the national language instead of Russian. (In Lithuania, where the number of ethnic Russians was between 10 and 20 percent of the population, citizenship was granted automatically.)

Although accepting the need to redress the Soviet-era policies, 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 notably the Baltics. In Moldova, the Russian-dominated Transnistria region broke away from government control amid fears the country would soon reunite with Romania.

Russian Chinese

Russians (俄罗斯族) are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China (as the Russ), and there are approximately 15,600 Russian Chinese living mostly in northern Xinjiang, and also in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang. See also Harbin Russians and China Far East Railway.

Emergence of Russian ethnicity

Russians began to be recognized as a distinct ethnic group in the 15th century, when they were referred to Muscovite Russians, during the consolidation of Muscovy as a regional power. This distinguished them both from the earlier Rus', and from the western peoples who became the modern-day Belarusians and Ukrainians.

Some ethnologists maintain that Russians were a distinct Slavic group even before the time of Kievan Rus. Others believe that the distinguishing feature of the Russians is not primarily their separation from Western Rus, but that the Russkiye are a mix of East Slavic and non-Slavic tribes. However, the origin of the Slavic peoples is itself a matter of on which there is no consensus.

See also

eo:Rusoj fi:Venliset ja:ロシア人 ka:რუსები ko:러시아인 lt:Rusai pl:Rosjanie ru:Русские sl:Rusi sv:Ryssar tt:Urıs xalqı zh:俄罗斯族


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