See you in the .rf

Open registration in the .рф (which means .rf in russian) domain started today at noon, Andrey Kolesnikov, head of the Coordination Center for the National Internet Domain, said. This means that now, one can type web addresses not only with Latin characters but also with Russian letters.

Getting a new Cyrillic name will be possible through any of the 20 registrars – sites which have been long available and are possible to find when searching for “registering in the .rf domain,” for example. Note that the names will be given on an unreserved basis – based on when a person submits his application. Most likely, the number of people wanting to have a personal site titled "петров.рф" (petrov.rf) or "самаякрасивая.рф" (themostbeautiful.rf) will be great, especially considering the miserly cost of the new domain: 500-600 rubles per name.

In order to increase one’s chances, says Kolesnikov, one can submit applications to all registrar companies at once. Money will be refunded for unsuccessful registration attempts. In order to avoid a meltdown of the system from the high number of applications, the Center limited the number of applications to 4,800 per hour for each registration company. In the end, according to Kolesnikov, several tens of thousands of domains are estimated to be issued in the first day. The question with electronic mail has not been resolved, however. Russian email addresses will most likely appear in only 1-2 years.

Earlier it was planned to implement a registration scheme based on the Dutch auction principle, with the price gradually decreasing (the suggested starting price was one million rubles). But anti-monopolists were outraged, and insisted on publicly accessible prices. Moreover, Kolesnikov explained while answering a question posed by Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s (RG) correspondent, that the entire work system would have had to be changed for this scheme. Besides, “selling our Motherland” at an auction, he says, is somehow immoral. Therefore, the idea was abandoned.

“The main advantage of the Cyrillic domain is that it’s easy to use,” said Kolesnikov. This fact is already appreciated by more than 18,000 trademark owners, non-profit organizations and media outlets which have already received their domain names in the national zone. But the first to receive domain names in accordance with the rules of priority registration were state agencies. Some of them are already functional. According to the Center’s assessment, more than 30% have already been activated.

Until now, only these categories of users were able to reserve a place in the new domain zone. Trademark owners were to present documents from Rospatent (Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks) attesting to their ownership rights. And only then were they able to “reserve” a name in the domain.
Some organizations received documents for commonly used words from Rospatent in December 2009. For example, in the category of “water heaters, lamps, and lanterns” appeared a new product titled “movies,” “umbrellas, handles for umbrellas and suitcases” could be called “banks,” and sex was found in the group “women’s handbags, beach, suitcases.” And despite the fact that experts called it cheating (cybersquatting), representatives of the Center don’t think that it is their mistake. Problems most likely exist in the legislation under which Rospatent operates. That is precisely the reason why the first domain in the new zone was “секс.рф” (sex.rf).

The Coordination Center has also compiled its own stop list: it includes profanities and some of the most common word combinations which cannot be registered as a domain name. According to the Center’s estimates, nearly 5,000 such words and word combinations were found in the Russian language. But the ban does not apply to a censured word with two repeating letters, as well as to words that are offensive to some. Courts exist to settle disputes, shrugs the organizer.

Kolesnikov acknowledged that including non-profit organizations and media outlets in the “priority list” was a mistake. Now, within the .rf zone are mass media domains such as “pivo.rf” (beer.rf) and “vodka.rf”. The name “pogoda.rf” (weather.rf) fell into the hands of the allegedly existent Public Organization of Urban Leisure (abbreviated as POGO), followed by “Da.”

Center representatives say that in the near future, the entire interactive world will see how the new domain zone is adapted in our country. Russia is currently one of the top 10 countries for the number of domain names on the Internet, along with Germany, Holland, France and China. But Russia became one of the first countries to have a national-language domain. Thus, we could not learn from the experience of others – there wasn’t anyone to learn from.

The price is not yet being publicly stated; most likely, the Coordination Center will publish it at the end of the year on its website and issue a report on the completed work. Representatives of the organization argue that the opening of the Cyrillic domain not only increases user-friendliness, but also means some serious investment into the infrastructure of the Russian Internet on an international level.

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