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Russian President calls for Cyrillic domain extension

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev joined calls for the country to be assigned an Internet domain name in the Cyrillic script, reports the Moscow Times on Wednesday as part of a Kremlin drive to promote Russian as a global language.

He said 300 million people worldwide used Russian media and that a Cyrillic domain name would be a key part of raising the importance of the language, a task he said was his personal priority as president.

“We must do everything we can to make sure that we achieve in the future a Cyrillic Internet domain name — it is a pretty serious thing. It is a symbol of the importance of the Russian language and Cyrillic. … And I think we have a rather high chance of achieving such a decision.”

Medvedev is certainly the most tech-savvy head of state Russia has seen, he has publicly used his mobilephone to connect to the Internet and says he surfs inline every morning for news.

The Russians wish to have the first true IDN extension on the Internet, .RF (.рф). Unlike other IDN domains currently available, where the extension itself remains in Latin characters, full IDN domains will be entirely in the non-Latin character sets. The viability of these domains is beng discussed at the ICANN meeting later this month in Paris.

While the application of presidential influence may well help the Russian cause, ICANN still has issues with the continued use of the .SU (Soviet Union) extension. After many requests to the operators to “to freeze new registrations”, this extension is still being actively promoted. In fact their last reaction to ICANN’s demands was to slash prices by 50%. This move quadrupled the number of SU users from 11’000 to more than 45’000, making it even more of a headache to decommission. However, it is increasingly looking like a compromise will be in the form of an exchange between .SU and .RF (.рф). With that in mind registration of .SU would seem a smart move at the moment, as users domain names would be transferred, without further application.

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Nick Wilsdon

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