I'm in Russia now - just got off the train in Volgograd. I know only a few words and am travelling on my own. Fair warning - Russia (my second visit) is the hardest country I've travelled in. I struggle with the Cyrillic - but it's definitely worth learning. It gets faster to read quite quickly.
One of the best suggestions is to write requests down. For example - trains, I write the destination (in Cyrillic), the time (numbers are mostly universal) and the class, and draw a set of bunks to indicate the top bunk. Almost no words are required, but it's clear what I'm after.
It's hard, but I arrived with fewer than 10 words, and I've certainly managed - entering from Finland, I went to Murmansk, down to St Petersburg, across to Moscow and back, and now down to Volgograd. It's a fantastic country, well worth it, but it IS hard :)