Like in most Western cultures, a person's first name is chosen by his or her parents. The first name is usually used before the surname (last name) and it is given so in most of European languages. For example, Victor Chernomyrdin, where "Victor" goes as a first name and "Chernomyrdin" is the last name. In the different listings, though, the naming order is usually reversed and is used like Chernomyrdin V. This order is also commonly used in formal or command style.
Two sources are the main places of origin for the first names Russian given: native pre-Christian pagan lexicons and Orthodox church rites and traditions.
Common names Russian boys are given include:
- Nikolay (Nicholas is the equivalent);
- Vladimir (that means "the Lord of the World")
- Andrey (Andrew is the equivalent);
- Pyotr (Peter is the equivalent);
- Alexandr (Alexander is the equivalent);
Common Russian girl names are:
- Oksana (the most popular Ukrainian name);
- Kseniya (the Russian equivalent of Oksana);
- Ol'ga (that's a derivative from Helga, a name of the Varangian origin);
- Yekaterina (Catherine is the English equivalent);
The patronymic names Russian people are given, are based of their father's first name and are obligatory to be written in all official papers and documents. It is always placed after the first name. The following formula: First Name plus the Patronymic is used in formal language and respective ways of address. The respected persons of the country are usually named in media through their full names: First Name plus the Patronymic plus Family Name.
Russian surnames, at least most of them like Putin, Chernomyrdin, Kuchma etc. usually function like most of English surnames. Russian surnames are inherited from the parents, though Russian women often change their surname to that of their husband. This is the ancient tradition and it is rarely ignored. In fact, if a woman doesn't want to change her surname (in case there is no continuation of the family as she is the only child), it is possible to keep her surname or combine it with that of her husband. For example: Ivanova-Chernomyrdin. However, a child born in such a family usually inherits his or her father's original surname. Many Russian surnames may appear in different forms, which depends on gender - for instance, the wife of Viktor Chernomyrdin has her name sounding like Chernomyrdina. This change is the feature of East Slavic group of languages and it is not considered to be the actual change. Just different form.
The names Russian are usually given differ a bit from those given to the population of the CIS countries which are non-Slavic. But the surnames of those cultures have been strongly russified and now many Kazakh people, for example, carry surnames with Russian suffixes.
Russian names (here we mean Byelorussian and Ukrainian names too) are very beautiful and mostly often are easy to transliterate. There is a recent trend in Europe after certain events in Ukraine to name the newlyborns after the Slavic names. This might be a soon-to-be-passed trend, however it is now obvious to leave a significant imprint in European cultures.