Russian IDN ccTLD .рф Opens for Registrations, Makes History

by Veni Markovski on November 16, 2010

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 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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael 11.16.10 at 5:55 pm

It’s great to see what is a natural choice to Russian users, which finally have the ability to use domain names where both the domain and the TLD are in Cyrillic but as Mr. Beckstrom mentioned on several occasions, this is only the beginning and there is an expectation that ICANN won’t fail to neglect it’s original approach for both IDN ccTLD’s and IDN gTLD’s to run in parallel.

Leonid 11.18.10 at 5:38 am

Now that the success of the launch of the Cyrillic IDN TLD is obvious, the time has come for a more cold-headed discourse on the issue. I trust Veni Markovsky has found an excellent label- gold rush, that is, and it would be sensible now to exhale and shake off the festive mood and think more rationally: measure the dynamics, monitor the pace of registration of new domains, and try to build time series over time so that to be able to project future ternds of the IDN TLD’s development.
Equally fundamental (and potentially instrumental) to the global and IDN communities will be the task of examination of roots of this success story- whether it should be ascribed to a specific nation’s sentiments and cultural and behavioral peculiarities, or the registry’s sound and innovative marketing policies, or any other factor to be yet unearthed.
While this is going to take some time, however, one important fact has been established, which discredits any previous speculations,- namely, the demand and prospective markets for IDNs worldwide are there and the Internet has remained intact.

prodomen 11.19.10 at 12:14 am

Registrar Ru-Center was formally charged in cybersquatting and infringement of competition law.
http://prodomen.com/?p=1852

Veni Markovski 11.19.10 at 9:54 am

Prodomen, the original news is here, check the web site of the Russian Fair Trade Commission. One must really know the Russian laws to understand what art. 11 (1), point 3 means.

Stoyan Danev 11.21.10 at 12:22 am

Not correct!

The idea for a Bulgarian IDN ccTLD started in 2006 by a private association, and the idea for a Russian IDN ccTLD started in 2001-2002 by a Russian company.

Political discussions are always late!

Leonid 11.21.10 at 12:34 am

Prodomen, Veni\’s right. Plus, we all understand that .РФ would expands regardless of RU-Center\’s efforts, nonetheless.
That said, I wonder if you are following the processes in .DE after registration of domains with the long \”S\” has been allowed- 187,000 over the first day. Th juxtaposition of growth dynamics in both TLDs should give some food for thought-not a whole national alphabet, but a single letter matters now.
And what does it mean in global terms? Everybody\’s being so patriotic about national languages and their use for the sake of easier addressing? Or kinda silent dissatisfaction with the long-standing domination of English in the Web, or a national registry\’s smart\’n\’arch marketing strategies? This is an interesting thing to explore, as well as where these thingswill further take us.

Leonid 11.21.10 at 11:05 am

Stoyan, straight to the point, but what difference does it make? At least, politicians have not blocked the way :). Moreover, they were supportive- a rare example of “private-public partnership”.

Teodor 11.25.10 at 12:52 am

Ivan 11.25.10 at 6:49 pm

Theodore,
There are many links, which give different picture of the current situation. Recommended reading in Russian:
– .ru ccTLD: «Наша главная задача – защита интересов конечных пользователей»
– RU center: О ситуации вокруг начала открытой регистрации доменов .РФ

Leonid 11.27.10 at 5:53 am

Right, the situation is pretty controversial and a perfect reminder of Karl Marx’s argument that “with a 300% profit margin, das Kapital is ready to commit anything”.
There have been numerous examples of similar challenges facing recently launched TLDs (.tel, .eu, etc.)
Yet the central issue is to walk a fine line between (quaite understandable) business community’s interests and end-users needs and legitimate rights.
I remain hopeful the common sense will ultimately prevail.
Changing gears completely, I am truly amzed to see the Russian government distance themselves from the situation and silently reassure everyone that is up to the local self-regulated community to sort things out- very encouraging indeed….

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