- See also Russophone (novel)
A Russophone (Russian: русскоговорящий, русскоязычный; russkogovoryashchy, russkoyazychny) is a speaker of the Russian language either natively or by preference. At the same time the term is used in a more specialized meaning to describe the category of people whose cultural background is associated with Russia regardless of territorial distinctions.
There are an estimated 162 million native speakers of Russian worldwide (of whom 137 million or 85% live in the Russian Federation) and about 110 million people who speak Russian as a second language.
There are sizable Russophone communities in many neighbouring countries that were parts of the former Soviet Union, including Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Estonia and Latvia. Additionally, there are large Russophone immigrant communities in Israel and various parts of the United States, Canada and Australia.
Russian population in post-Soviet states
Russophony in the post-Soviet states is a controversial phenomenon, as it is in all nations which share a European colonial past such as Africa or Spanish America. Throughout Imperial Russia and later the other republics of the USSR, the languages of many different ethnic and indigenous groups were suppressed by Russification, as Russian attained its status as a de facto language that unified the Soviet people and was used exclusively in all official and interstate affairs. Although native language classes (e.g. Latvian or Estonian) were obligatory for all students regardless nationality in every Republic and Autonomy of the USSR alongside with Russian. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union this situation was reversed in the countries state schools of the "Near abroad" (Russian: ближнее зарубежье, blizhneye zarubezhye) — the term used in Russia for the post-Soviet states — and the use of Russian was discouraged, with the notable exceptions of Belarus, Crimea (internationally recognized as part of Ukraine), Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan where Russian remains today an official language. The breakaway republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria (Moldova) have also declared Russian as official in the territories under their control.
- List of countries where Russian is an official language
- Russians in Ukraine
- Russians in Kazakhstan
- History of Russians in Latvia
- History of Russians in Estonia
- History of Russians in Lithuania
- Russian-speaking world
- Pål Kolstø, "The new Russian diaspora - an identity of its own? Possible identity trajectories for Russians in the former Soviet republic." Ethnic and Racial studies, July 1996, pp. 609–639
- Pål Kolstø, "The price of stability. Kazakhstani control mechanisms in a bipolar cultural and demographic situation", paper presented at conf. Democracy and Pluralism in the Muslim Areas of the Former Soviet Union at The Cummings Center, University of Tel Aviv, 7–9 November 1999 
- Autin, Claire, «Les États baltes. Le défi des minorités russophones», Géographie et cultures, No. 38, 2001 :5-24