Karelian is a Finnic language spoken by about 35,000 people mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia, and also in Finland. Karelian is official considered a dialect of Finnish in Karelia, though there are moves to have it recognised as a second language. East Karelian dialects have little mutual intelligibility with Finnish.
The earliest known example of written Karelian, and of writing in any Finnic language, is a birch bark letter found at Novgorod in 1957 which dates from the early 13th century. It was written in the Cyrillic alphabet and the language is thought to be an archaic form of Olonets Karelian, which is also known as East Karelian or Liwi and is spoken along the Olonka River in the Republic of Karelia.
A number of Cyrillic-based spelling systems were developed during the Soviet period, though none of them took off due to Stalin's suppression and outlawing of Karelian. Today Karelian is written with a version of the Finnish alphabet, which was revised in 2007.