The Russian Premier League (RPL) is the top division professional association football league in Russia. It was established at the end of 2001 as the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) and was rebranded with its current name in 2018. From 1992 through 2001, the top level of the Russian football league system was the Russian Football Championship (Russian: Чемпионат России по футболу, Chempionat Rossii po Futbolu). There are 16 teams in the competition. The league has three Champions League qualifying spots given to the top three teams at the end of the season and the two Europa League spots will be allocated to the fourth and fifth placed teams. The last two teams are relegated to the Russian National Football League at the end of the season.
Since the introduction of the Russian Premier League in 2002, Zenit Saint Petersburg (7 times), CSKA Moscow (6 times), Lokomotiv Moscow (3 times), Rubin Kazan (2 times) and Spartak Moscow (1 time) have won the title. Zenit Saint Petersburg are the current Russian Premier League champions.
Teams in the Russian Premier League play each other twice, once at home and once away, for a total of 30 matches. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. If teams are level on points, the tie-breakers are the number of wins, then the goal difference, followed by several other factors. If the teams are tied for the first position, the tie-breakers are the number of wins, then head-to-head results. If the teams tied for the first place cannot be separated by these tie-breakers, a championship play-off is ordered.
As of 2020–21 season, the champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage. The runners-up qualifies for the Champions League third qualifying round. The third and fourth-place teams qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League. If the winner of Russian Cup ends in first or second on the championship in same season, then the third-place team qualifies to UEFA Europa League group stage, while fourth and fifth-place teams qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League instead. The bottom two teams are relegated to the National League. Starting on the 2020–21 season the teams ranked in 13th and 14th-place play a two legs relegation play-off against 4th and 3rd-place team from National League. The two winners of this play-off secures the right to play in Premier League in following season.
Unlike most other European football leagues, the league traditionally used to ran in summer, from March to November, to avoid playing games in the cold and snowy weather in winter. This was altered ahead of the 2012–13 season, with the league planning to run the season from autumn to spring. The transitional season of the competition began in early 2011 and continued until summer of 2012. After the 16 Premier League teams played each other twice over the course of the 2011 calendar year, they were split into two groups of eight, and the teams played other teams in their groups two more times for a total of 44 games (30 in 2011 and 14 in 2012). Those two groups were contested in spring 2012, with the top eight clubs playing for the title and European places. The other sides vied to avoid relegation: the bottom two went down while the next two played off against the sides third and fourth in the National Football League, with the two losers being relegated (or denied promotion). Under the current autumn-spring calendar, the league takes a three-month winter break from mid-December until mid-March. Merging the calendar with other UEFA leagues however, has increased numbers of games in winter. This has resulted in the Russian Far East and Siberian teams being forced to play more home games in hostile weather conditions which affected the Premier League when SKA Khabarovsk took part.