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Internationalized domain names: the case of Russia

Andrei Mikheyev made his presentation on ¨Internationalized domain names: the case of Russia¨ at the 9th ICANN Studienkreis held in Helsinki, Sept. 2009.


Here is a copy-paste of the notes I have taken. It is always good to check the original videos posted here for getting the original message :)


Cyrillic alphabet


Initially, a short intro to Cyrillic alphabet was made. This family of script is used in more than 100 languages and official languages of 11 countries.

Russia has a population of 141 million, 33 million internet users and about 1.6 million domain names in the .ru zone only.

The market is growing rapidly and the potential for Cyrillic scripts is indeed quite broad.

What is special? Cyrillic scripts comes from Greek and Latin so 1/3 of characters have matches in ASCII.

This leads to potential phishing problems as many domains can be entirely written in Cyrillic and Latin characters. This was noticed and some websites like YTRO.ru do not use the transcription of their name but try the way the Russian letters are written by Latin characters.

Also, there are no agreed upon way to translate Russian words into Latin characters.

Even for easy ones with clear matches, there are many possibilities: andrei-andrej-andrey and mikheyev-miheev-mikheev (-michejew?)

Is there a clear need for Cyrillic IDN? Is this worth discussing? With so many users and the differences in characters?

The lack of Cyrillic IDNs is not the major problem from Russians getting online. Indeed the Latin characters are needed, but most of the population had foreign language teaching at school they should be able to write the address even though not understanding it.

Maybe this is an overstated problem.

IDN evolution in Russia


To give a bit of history of idn evolution in Russia: initially in 2003 there was VeriSign registering Cyrillic .com and .net domain names and only a few thousand were registered. Since October 2007 there is a register called RegTime and a few days ago Ru-Nic there was a ¨reminder¨ saying that was the possibility of having Cyrillic .com or .net.

But today there are no major companies doing that. This was more symbolic or parking domain.

It does not make sense to use a keyboard switch to type http.... and then use the cyrillic characters.


What about idn.ru? There was a joint conference with VeriSign and a working group since December 2003. They tackled the issue of the potential phishing problem. There were then registration rules for Cyrillic domains in the .ru zone in December 2006.

If the domains look graphically similar and .ru domain is available then you have priority, and this was what would be a protection against cybersquatters, but this strategy did not work.

idn.idn - finally not changing the keyboard and also those who do not know the latin script. This possibility was offered by RegTime since 2001. This was more an investment or gamble to give companies to have the right, but not necessarily to use it.

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