The RUSSIAN Language:
Russian is the principal language of administration in the former Soviet Union. Russian is spoken by about 170 million people as a first language. It is used by at least an additional 100 million as a second language in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union and of Eastern Europe. Closely related to Russian are the other East Slavic tongues, Ukrainian (also called Little Russian or Ruthenian) and Belarussian (or White Russian). The former is spoken by about 45 million people, mainly in Ukraine and Russia. The latter, which also uses a form of the Cyrillic alphabet, is the tongue of about 8 million persons, most of whom live in Belarus. Because of its large number of speakers and its leading position in the former Soviet Union, Russian is one of the chief languages of the world. Used officially by the United Nations, it is important in scientific writings as well. The great literary works written in Russian also have made the language culturally significant. Russian is also called, Great Russian, and is a member of the East Slavic group of the Slavic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages.