November 06, 2008 |
Russia is an interesting country when it comes to the top level domains that the nation uses. Initially Soviet Union was assigned .su domain but soon after that the Soviet Union itself went into oblivion and Russia was granted a separate domain zone of its own – .ru this time.
For what I’ve seen here people never really minded using both .su and .ru domains here in Russia (even without Soviet Union) and when one of the zones is not available for a desired domain name, people simply choose the second one. I still think this situation with dual zones used as equal (with some preference for .ru but without any particular prejudice against it) added to complications around the domain names site owners use here.
Some experts suggested that the .su zone should be abolished completely as the country these two letters stand for does not even exist any more. Yet today the complications seem to be getting even worse with ICANN granting an additional zone for Russia – .рф, which is a Cyrillic equivalent of RF, short for Russian Federation. To Russian website owners this means that they will be able to register domains using only the letters of the national alphabet while for the Russian internet users it will also mean that we will be able to type URLs of websites in Cyrillic without switching the keyboard layout to English.
Until now it was possible to register a domain name written in Cyrillic in zones .com, .net, and .su. Today the specialized Russian language only top level domain is added. Now that ICANN decision is here, the local authorities in charge of registering the domains in the new zone will have to work out the details. For now it is known that it will be possible to start registering domains in this new top level zone next summer.
The movement to use Cyrillic characters for domain names is pretty strong here in Russia as people try to make internet easier understandable and accessible for everyone – without limiting it to the people who happen to know how to type Latin letters. Besides, there may be a factor of trying to stick to national symbols with one of them obviously being the Russian language. For example, earlier this year the Russian search giant Yandex switched from a logo written mostly in Roman characters to Cyrillic only.
So while we in Russia are understandably happy to be able to use URLs for sites written fully in the letters of Cyrillic alphabet, I feel that the complications involved are not particularly necessary as we will obviously see multiple duplicate websites and people trying to manipulate brands by choosing the Russian spelling of a brand name for international brands to add credibility to websites. There are currently over 30 countries waiting for an ICANN approval for them to receive top level domains using characters of national alphabets and of course it is good seeing Russia among the first countries out of the waiting list and with the approval required.