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ICANN in Russia, April 2007

On April 5-6 several of us were in Moscow, at the international conference on security and trust.
The conference was organized by RANS – The Russian Association for Networks and Services.

ICANN was represented by Theresa Swinehart – VP Global Partnership, board members Steve Crocker and Steve Goldstein, and myself as the regional representative for Russia. We had a number of meetings – among them with academicians Velikhov and Belyaev at the Kurchatov Institute. We also met with the people running the .ru ccTLD, among them Alexei Platonov, Alexei Soldatov, Andrey Romanov, Dmitriy Burkov, Mikhail Yakushev, and others.
Like last year in September, ICANN was sharing the moment with the ITU – this time represented by the same Houlin Zhao, who was in the meantime elected as deputy Secretary-General of the ITU.

I went also to the Russian Internet Forum – an amazing gathering of about 2200 (sic!) of Russia’s Internet geeks at “Lesnie Dali”, near Moscow’s famous villages Borviha, and Gorki-2. Please, take a look at the web site – it has enormous amount of information. My talk about ICANN is listed here.

Steve Crocker and Steve Goldstein had presentations in the main conference event, while Theresa Swinehart had a keynote address at the opening and the closing of the conference. She was also among the guests at the opening of the ITU training center at the Moscow Technical University.

Moscow is a beautiful city, growing at amazing speed, and the Russians we met were quite friendly, and willing (and more important – able!) to contribute to the work we do at ICANN. They indeed know what they are talking about – both the RANS conference, with its key representatives from different governmental and educational institutions, and the RIF with its 2200 participants, workshops, conferences, seminars, and exhibition make me believe, yet again, that the East has its own, quite important place in the global Internet culture.

I am looking forward to my new meetings in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan… to name just a few of the countries I’ve been in touch with since I took the position of a regional liaison.

The work of the regional liaisons is not always easy to see or describe. Here’s one practical example: ICANN signed with .ru ccTLD an accountability framework just before we went to Moscow. The work behind this simple fact is enormous, and it took quite a lot of time (check this page for more accountability frameworks and agreements). Communication with the Internet community in any country is also not always easy – they need to know what ICANN is, how they can contribute, what ICANN can do for them, and what they can do for ICANN. There are cross-cultural issues, language issues, sometimes lot of history, which we need to navigate through, in order to achieve our goals. Plus, we work in environment, which is constanly changing, and we have to adapt to it, and find the right way to move on. And that’s only the beginning.

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See pictures from Moscow:
Veni Markovski at the RIF - Moscow 2007 Theresa Swinehart and Houlin Zhao
Steve C and Andrew R - thumbnail 2-acad-velkihov-stevegthumbnail.jpg

(the picture on top left corner is from the RIF site) Here’s another place where you can see more pictures from the conferences (more are available also at the RIF site)

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My first visit in Moscow was in 1979 (I’ve written some short memories about it, in Bulgarian), and I’ve been there in the 90s several times – that was indeed a strange time – everything was falling apart, the airplane tickets from Sofia to Moscow were $ 10, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch Asia live.
I have a number of friends and colleagues there. In 1994 my Bulgarian ISP was using as an uucp gateway over X.25 a company called GlasNet – the first Russian private Internet provider.
I’ve interviewed a number of Russian writers, among them Yuri Astafiev, Ivan Stadnyuk, Inna Markovna Saburova (she was also wife of the late army general Alexandar Saburov, one of the famous Russian partisan commanders-in-chief from the time of the Second World War, who later became Member of the Parliament, and served as a deputy minister of interior), who was an interpreter from/to Bulgarian, and a good family friend.

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    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."