Richard Pipes in The Russian Revolution remarks:
The peasantry was hardly affected by the westernization which had transformed Russia's elite into Europeans, and in its culture remained loyal to Moscovite Russia. Russian peasants spoke their own dialect, followed their own logic, pursued their own interests, and viewed their betters as aliens to whom they had to pay taxes, deliver recruits but with whom they had nothing in common.
The existence of a peasant Russian dialect comes to me as somewhat of a surprize, as I generally believed that:
- by the beginning of XX-th century Russian has become essentially a modern literary language (see also this question From Russian/Slavonic diglossia to modern Russian (via French/Russian?))
- Russian is remarkably uniform throughout the territory of Russia (or even URSS) - the dialectal differences concern mainly pronunciation, and occasional lexical elements (lastik/resinka, trotuar/porevrik) but otherwise do not hamper understanding.
The existence of a distinct peasant dialect (or dialects) is however corroborated by Wikipedia:
Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, the spoken form of the Russian language was that of the nobility and the urban bourgeoisie. Russian peasants, the great majority of the population, continued to speak in their own dialects. However, the peasants' speech was never systematically studied, as it was generally regarded by philologists as simply a source of folklore and an object of curiosity.
Nakhimovsky quotes the Soviet academicians A.M Ivanov and L.P Yakubinsky, writing in 1930:
The language of peasants has a motley diversity inherited from feudalism. On its way to becoming proletariat peasantry brings to the factory and the industrial plant their local peasant dialects with their phonetics, grammar, and vocabulary, and the very process of recruiting workers from peasants and the mobility of the worker population generate another process: the liquidation of peasant inheritance by way of leveling the particulars of local dialects. On the ruins of peasant multilingual, in the context of developing heavy industry, a qualitatively new entity can be said to emerge—the general language of the working class... capitalism has the tendency of creating the general urban language of a given society.
By the mid-20th century, such dialects were forced out with the introduction of the compulsory education system that was established by the Soviet government. Despite the formalization of Standard Russian, some nonstandard dialectal features (such as fricative [ɣ] in Southern Russian dialects) are still observed in colloquial speech.
The citation points to book The Language of Russian Peasants in the Twentieth Century: A Linguistic Analysis and Oral History by Alexander Nakhomovsky, to which I have no access.
I would appreciate a short (but not necessarily technical) summary of the principal features of the peasant dialect(s), and whether it could be a barrier for understanding between peasants and non-peasants or between different peasant communities.