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Russia: First Cyrillic Domains Go Online

RuNet Echo This post is part of RuNet Echo, a Global Voices project to interpret the Russian language internet. All Posts · Learn more

The first four Cyrillic domains went online by May 13: “президент.рф” (Russian president's Web site), “правительство.рф” (Government Web site), “кц.рф” (Coordination center of domain registration – Russian branch of ICANN) and “ник.рф” (National Center of Domain Registration). The event that Russian officials and bloggers were waiting for finally happened! Russia became the fourth country to introduce non-latin domains (after Saudi Arabia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates whose domains were introduced a week earlier [EN]).

The long-awaited initiative (GV has written about in November 2009 [EN]) caused enthusiasm and skepticism, as well as revealed browser problems. The most enthusiastic comments (sometimes too enthusiastic) were from the pro-government patriotic segment of RuNet. A press-release of “Molodaya Gvardia” youth organization proclaimed [RUS]:

Свершилось! 13 мая 2010 года (запомните этот день!) впервые в истории заработали сайты в кириллическом домене РФ. Два ресурса в новой зоне открыли президент и правительство. Россия первой в мире получила национальный государственный домен.

It has happened! On May 13, 2010 (remember this day!), for the first time in history, two Web sites started to work in the cyrillic domain “.рф.” Two resources in the new zone started by the President and the Government. Russia was the first in the world (sic! – GVO) to get the national state domain.

Aside from the ultra-patriotic comments, the interface for a Russian speaker and writer is interesting – writing the address feels way easier and user-friendly. At the same time, for most of the domains, a site structure remained intact (e.g. the post slugs were latin, which looks a little inconsequential):

Example of hybrid cyrillic-latin domain, screenshot from президент.рф

Example of hybrid cyrillic-latin domain, screenshot from президент.рф

Blogger Stassia tweeted [RUS]:

класс! домен кириллический, а линки вглубь по-прежнему латиницей: президент.рф/news

Cool! Domain is cyrillic, but all the deep links are still in latin: президент.рф/news

tapka-fai added his comment on “http://” part of URL:

а http почему не по-русски? непорядок

and why http isn't in Russian? This is no good!

User Co0L suggested [RUS] that the first cyrillic domain was the test domain http://пример.испытание/ (“example.test”).

Kryloshanin not only mocked the cyrillic domain initiative, but also analysed official statements on the topic [RUS]. Some of those looked quite surprising (and at the same time quite insightful). As the head of the Coordination Center put it [RUS]:

Теперь можно набирать их названия в любой поисковой системе, используя сразу русский язык, а не латиницу, как это было до сих пор”

Now a person can type in their names (domain names – GVO) in any system using Russian language, and not latin, how it was before.

Kryloshanin commented:

Вероятно, мы с директором Координационного центра национального домена в сети Интернет до настоящего времени по-разному пользовались поисковиками?

It looks like I and the director of the coordination center of the national domain on the Internet network were using search engines quite differently

The sarcasm was supported with the printscreen of the “creative” browsing:

"Creative" browsing, printscreen by LJ-user Kryloshanin

"Creative" browsing, printscreen by LJ-user Kryloshanin

Kryloshanin also discussed the other controversial thing that the Russian minister Shegolev stated [RUS] earlier. He said that search engines couldn't properly index cyrillic domains, which isn't quite true – Google shows index results for “кц.рф” [RUS]. At the same time, as antonblog.ru observes [RUS], Yandex.ru (Popular Russian search-engine) still was unable to index three cyrillic domains.

Rustex was sceptical [RUS] but did not show any sarcasm:

Ну что же – первый шаг к разъединению интернета сделан…
Очень жаль. Вообщем-то, второе падение Вавилонской башни.

Well – the first step towards separation of the Internet has been made…
It's very sad. However, it's the second fall of the Babylon tower.

Roem.ru reported [RUS] problems with showing the right address in Mozilla Firefox and Safari (the domain is represented in the following form: http://xn--j1ay.xn--p1ai/), Chrome and Internet Explorer showed the address intact.

May 2010 starts a new period in the development of the World Wide Web. It took 19 years to evolutionize to the system that is now emerging. The consequences of the non-latin domain names are still hard to forecast. It's understandable that they're might be both negative (destruction of the standardized information space, numerous technical problems, “ghettoization” or “nationalization” of the Web and following net restrictions/regulations of the national Internet spaces) and positive (emancipation of non-latin alphabet systems, user-friendlyness, possible implications for elimination of digital divide). However, the real question remains open: how influential this change is? Will multi-alphabetical web revolutionalize the world or be used just for national self-consciousness?

  • http://vkhokhl.blogspot.com/ Veronica Khokhlova

    Yes, on Firefox, this is what I get instead of президент.ру: http://xn--d1abbgf6aiiy.xn--p1ai/

    • http://www.anasqtiesh.com Anas Qtiesh

      It’s the same problem with Arabic domains too. I believe this feature is not mature enough, or at least browsers aren’t yet capable of handling it properly.

      • http://altzgamer.ru Alexey Sidorenko

        Well, the problem exists only if you use Firefox or Safari. I use Chrome, so I don’t have any problems. With the first browser update this bug should be solved

        • http://www.anasqtiesh.com Anas Qtiesh

          I’m going to stick to Firefox. This feature doesn’t really interest me yet, maybe with time and when more websites implement it.

          In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the Firefox 4.0 betas in June.

  • http://sobermaverick.wordpress.com/ Sober Maverick

    Just in case you, residents of Russia, see it differently I share how one of Russian-based link looks like.

    The source:
    “президент.рф” (Russian president’s Web site) /coped from above/

    The outcome:
    http://xn--d1abbgf6aiiy.xn--p1ai/

    This innovation will definitely wide the gap among progressive and regressive Russians. In other words, we should expect new old cold war within the country. It’s too bad for Russians.

    • http://altzgamer.ru Alexey Sidorenko

      Dear Sober Maverick,

      as I mentioned in the text and in the later comments, this is browser-specific bug. It doesn’t depend on anything except browser. What browser are you using?

      • http://www.anasqtiesh.com Anas Qtiesh

        I tried on Chrome (dev channel) and the bug was there. It’s obviously not widely supported yet, since it only works properly on one version of one browser. In good time.

      • http://sobermaverick.wordpress.com/ Sober Maverick

        Hello Alexey,

        Thanks for your reply. I’ve read the above comments, so I am aware of the bug. Driving back to my previous post, I expressed my regret for the idea of partitioning a Russian net space onto sources for “For Russians”, and “Aliens Only.” I cannot help but cite words of the Bible “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24).
        PS: I am on Firefox.

        • http://altzgamer.ru Alexey Sidorenko

          Well, that’s the evident downside of the non-latin domains. At the same time – the situation reflects the diversity and complexity of the offline world.

          • http://sobermaverick.wordpress.com/ Sober Maverick

            I agree that Russians should not be deprived from communication… at least among themselves.

  • Pingback: Russia: From “Sovereign Democracy” to “Sovereign Internet”? | The Global Citizen

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