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Russian IDN ccTLD .рф Opens for Registrations, Makes History

November 11, 2010, marked the day when the new IDN 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 and .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 TLDs.

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.

More on the Russian ccTLD Coordination Center here (in Russian).

Statistics from the Russian IDN ccTLD here (in Russian).

More on the ICANN IDN program here.

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 FROM 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 металлоконструкции (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.


    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"""" is not an IDN."