Why Russian? Why not Russian?
Its a European language spoken by over 100 million people IIRC. It was the primary language of the former Soviet Union and the language of affairs for former Soviet states.
Not only that, it doesn't use a Latin alphabet, but its alphabet is still similar to Latin in many aspects compared with Chinese which would leave me completely lost out of the gate.
I can't speak for Russian as I don't speak it, but I'm Czech and the Czech language is slavic too. We have very complex rules and I don't think I could explain my language to a foreigner. There are so many rules, that I think you would be better off just memorizing all the inflections, conjugations and whatnot… On the other hand, you can deduce word meanings thanks to our prefixes. For example "chodit" means to walk. If I tell you that "v-" prefix means in, what do you think "vchod" means? an entrance. Now I tell you that "vý-" means out. Guess what "východ" means? Yes, that's right, an exit!
Speaking of asian languages, if you don't want to learn the Chinese "alphabet", you could always try learning Korean.
I'm learning it and it's not that hard as you would expect. First, they have an awesome phonetic alphabet. For example: 사람 [saram], which means a person BTW, consists of 5 letters: ㅅ - s, ㅏ - a (as in car or far, NOT as in angle…), ㄹ - r (rougher than the english r, kind of like when someone speaks with a russian accent), again ㅏ - a, and ㅁ - m. See how the characters were composed? Second, they do not have that super complicated grammar that we have in Czech. No inflections, almost all conjugations are regular… Their grammar is completely different though (English and Czech are similar languages when compared to Korean…), mainly the word order. A verb must always be at the end of a Korean sentence, which gets more different from European languages when you start forming complex sentences…
I'll compare the same sentence in English, Korean and Czech and I'll try to kind of "disassemble" them:
English: "I met the girl that I saw yesterday."
Korean: "(제가) 어제 본 여자 만났어요."
(제가) - (I as a subject) (not necessary here depending on the context, it might be obvious that I'm talking about myself)
어제 - yesterday
본 - ("to see" in adjective form in past - regularly conjugated)
여자 - woman/girl
만났어요 - met (to meet in plain past tense - regularly conjugated)
Czech: "Potkal jsem tu holku, co jsem viděl včera."
Potkal jsem - met (past tense with I as a subject)
tu - that/the (only for feminine words in the inflection described below)
holku - girl (I believe this inflection is used when you would say him or her as opposed to he or she in English)
co - that (thankfully this one doesn't have to be inflected); If you want to be more "correct" and less casual you could use "kterou" - whom (for feminine words in the above described inflection… It's crazy isn't it?)
jsem viděl - saw (past tense with I as a subject)
včera - yesterday
As you can see, in Czech the sentence has pretty much the same word order as the English one, but it has ridiculous amount of different inflections etc. The Korean sentence however, is completely different from both the Czech and English sentences, but there weren't any inflections and all conjugations were regular.