Russian Cyrillic is based on an alphabet around AD 863 by a Macedonian monk, who spoke a South Slavonic language closely related in Russian and also knew Greek: the inventor was later canonized as Saint Cyril, hence the name Cyrillic. This original Slavonic alphabet was based on the Greek one, so some of the letters will be familiar, e.g. n, the Russian p, which you may recognize as the Greek pi, used mathematics.
The alphabet is the first hurdle when you tackle Russian, but it is not a daunting one. Once you know the sounds of the thirty-three letters, you can read Russian words comprehensibly; unlike English, it is generally true to say that Russian words are pronounced as they are written. In this lesson, you will learn the essentials for reading and pronouncing Russian.