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Russian IDN ccTLD .рф Opens for Registrations, Makes History

Veni Markovski

November 11, 2010, marked the day when the new Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) contry code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) .рф (Cyrillic for Российская Федерация, Russian Federation) was opened for general registration. Prior to that date the registration was open only for trademark owners and governmental institutions.

Before the registration started, in an interview for the КоммерсантЪ (Commersant) daily, Andrey Kolesnikov, CEO of the Coordination Center for .ru/.рф, said that they expect to have about 100,000 domain names registered by the end of the year.

It turned out they needed less than three hours to reach to the 100,000 domain names! Such a gold rush was not expected, and numbers continued to grow — 200,000 within 6 hours from the beginning of the registration period. And more than 460,000 by today.

The registration process, which clearly exceeded (and continues to exceed) all expectation, includes some interesting details, for example there is a list of 4023 words, which are not allowed for registration. The so-called "black list" contains variations of all different vulgar words, known in the Russian language. However, users have already found ways to bypass it, with simply adding another word in front, or after the blacklisted words.

We'll be waiting to hear more on the history and the development of the Russian IDN ccTLD during the ICANN meeting in Cartagena, where several of the Russian ccTLD top management people will be present.

And we'll prepare a posting on that topic, with more details for the general public. We hope that these details might be helpful in the launch of other new Top-Level Domains.

There are hundred of publications in the Russian central media, and even more all over the web, with people sharing opinions about who might be these registrants, why there are so many domains registered, and what does the fact of so many domains mean for the Russian Internet. It will be also interesting to see in exactly one year how many of these domains will be renewed. But certainly the Russian IDN ccTLD has made history.

Related Links:
More on the Russian ccTLD Coordination Center (in Russian)
Statistics from the Russian IDN ccTLD (in Russian)
More on the ICANN IDN program

Interesting background information
The Cyrillic IDN ccTLD started as an idea, discussed during the meeting of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov with his Russian colleague President Vladimir Putin on January 18, 2008 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian President's office published last week the transcript from that meeting. Asked by President Putin, the Russian foreign minister responds, "As for the usage of Cyrillic in the Internet, our experts have already reviewed these issues, we have contacts with the international structures [ICANN], now we are solving the technical questions and the contacts between our specialists on that issue, of course, will confirm our commitment that Cyrillic should be used in the domain names. As for the consultations, as a whole, we are very happy from our cooperation [between Russia, Bulgaria, and ICANN]."

Update - November 18, 2010:
As of today, November 18, the number of domains in .рф (.rf IDN ccTLD) passed half a million. As the Coordination Center announced, the 500000th domain registered was металлоконструкции74.рф (xn--74-6kctqamahahrlb5apjiu5d.xn--p1ai — in puny-code). This number brings .рф on 17th place among all European domains. Domains, which were delegated, or a working, account to more than 162,000. Most of them are already used in advertising, not only as single words, but as whole phrases, which are easy for the Russian speaker to understand.

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