So this happened...
It's not a competition! Different people have different reasons to learn languages, and each language has someone for whom it's worth learning.
mid west, Texan, NY, west coast, Chicago
There was no button to answer in that deep in the topic. So, isn't there any standard American language which you hear on media? I'm aware of American dialects and able to recognize some of them, but when I watch the American TV I mostly hear only one form besides when they want to stress that a man speaks a dialect. For me >90% of american language is all the same (except slangs). However, it's a bit another story with British English. But as I heard its dialects are prone to converge to that American English whatever dialect you call it.
99% of people speak the standard Russian based on the moscovian dialect, at least on TV and where I've been (cities of Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus). There are a few phonetic differences left in some villages and a few words, many years ago the dialects were much more alive. I wonder how and what you perceived while traveling.
Actually, pronunciation-wise Russian as spoken in Kazakhstan and especially Ukraine or Far East is easily distinguished from the Moscow pronunciation by a native speaker. People don't hear my accent, however, nor do people in remote villages recognize Moscow linguists' accent as something different from their own speech. I guess, TV does that to you: for most native speakers of Russian I just speak "without any accent".
The use of words, though, stays mostly the same when you do not dig too deep into common everyday words (for example, no room in your apartment is зал in Moscow, ladle is половник and булка is not bread but rather a bun). Russian spoken in Ukraine has some Ukrainian influence; one might consider this a trivial flaw caused by naïve extention of the knowledge that comes from a person's other language. But I suspect you can easily consider it local norm, given that many such "mistakes" will be common in Ukraine and not anywhere else.
Regional variants are always usual, even one person has his own language. The amount of differences is the question. In Russian even such isoglosses as unreduced -o- or fricative -g- are rather rarely spoken nowadays in my opinion except some older people esp. in villages. It's based not only on my experience. For instance: "В итоге можно утверждать, что в современном русском языке сформировалась единая произносительная норма, заимствовавшая часть черт старого московского произношения и часть черт старого петербургского." source
TV does that to you: for most native speakers of Russian I just speak "without any accent".
I guess, most of TV persons are from other regions anyway. So they speak their own variants which are hardly different from your own today. The older moscovian pronunciation is kind of disappeared.
pronunciation-wise Russian as spoken in Kazakhstan and especially Ukraine or Far East is easily distinguished from the Moscow pronunciation by a native speaker
It would be interesting to know how Kazakhstanian Russian would be that easily recognized. It mostly doesn't have a local accent like Ukrainian Russian which is close to the 2nd closest language (however, it's not always present at all). Some other features?
Russian is a Slavonic language as are many other languages, they are messed up slavonic. Now I don't really know but Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian to the east; Polish, Czech, and Slovak to the west; and Slovenian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian to the south-are all Slavonic languages and have the same roots. Added to them is a liberal dose of romantic and germanic influence. So there you have my opinion Russian is nothing but a dialectic of slavonic and it will keep evolving like any other language. An interesting add, when I was in grade school there was a distinction between could and can, duo does not use could as would be correct in many cases. So "can" has a different meaning now a days. Also we used to get in trouble for using OK it was considered slang. Times change.
Oh lets see, Russia - 243 million people, Esperanto - a fluffy place that doesn't exist with at most 2 million speakers (which is likely wildly exaggerated.) Yes, I'll take Russian first. But hey, of all the languages on Duolingo, I pick Esperanto before I'll pick Klingon. Have you considered just making up your own complete language?
The Russian course was recently added. Wait a year or so and it will be in the top five.
Do you base that on facts? Which real competitions are you basing this on?
Personally, I believe that, if something is decided by a popularity contest, it must be true. But I must warn you, that is how I got as dumb as I am. You probably should not believe something so stupid.