The Old Russian state, or Kievan Rus, appeared on the historic scene in the second half of the 9th century as a result of the long development process of the local East Slavonic tribes. There were many of them, and not all of them at once were included into the new state creation, which however already in the initial stage of its development had demonstrated a number of qualities, which testified to their unity, chiefly the ethnic, linguistic and religious ones. Differences in dialects apparently existed already then, but they did not have any significance. Way more important were differences in the development of the material culture. Its level depended on the habitat - in this sense the life of the forest tribes was different from the tribes, who employed themselves in the agriculture. But even those divisions soon vanished.

Information about this earliest period of the Russian statehood did not survive - naturally - in abundance. And the farther in the chronology, the scarcer are the sources, and the bigger are the problems in the studies on the proces of forming East Slavonic tribes. These problems can be interpreted very widely, since they concern the studies on the ethnogenesis of the Slavs in general. In case of the East Slavs the geographic location deserves special emphasis - they were far from the most developed centres of the contemporary civilization; especially the circles of the Byzantine civilization play here a significant role. The Greeks were interested in the Black Sea areas since the earliest times, at least a thousand years before the rise of the Byzantium. This interest demonstrated itself in the first place through establishment of the colonies on the Black Sea shores, and sometimes in writings, from which even now one can extract precious information. And though there are few sources, they had been appended for centuries, and with time their origin became also other than the Greek or Byzantine (also Hellenic in the linguistic sense).