Russian is an Eastern Slavonic language closely related to Ukrainian and Belorussian with about 277 million speakers in Russia and 30 other countries.
The Cyrillic alphabet was introduced into Russia (Kievan Rus' ) at the time of its conversion to Christianity (988 AD). The alphabet, the Cyrillic script is named in honor of the Byzantine scholar and monk, Cyril (827-869 AD), who, together with his brother Methodius (826-885 AD), created the first Slavic writing system in the second half of the ninth century in order to translate the Bible and other Christian texts into the Slavic languages.
Cyril and Methodius called their alphabet Glagolitsa, or the Glagolitic alphabet. The name comes from the Old Slavic word glagolŭ, which means ‘sound’. The Glagolitic alphabet was used for Slavonic manuscripts for a relatively short period of time (no more than a century) before the development of the Cyrillic. The Cyrillic alphabet was derived from Glagolitic by Cyril’s pupils and named after him. Cyrillic letters are different from the Glagolitic ones and have lots in common with the Greek letters.
Until the 17th century, the only written language in Russia was Church Slavonic. Civil Russian language started appearing in writing during the reign of Peter the Great (1672-1725). The dialect of Moscow was used as the basis for written Russian. The new civil alphabet was introduced by Peter the Great himself in order to write civil books, books on science and other texts not related to the church.
Four letters were eliminated from the alphabet in a 1918 language reform. Since 1918 the alphabet remains unchanged.