Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation has thrown his weight behind the campaign for a new Cyrillic IDN for the country. The Moscow Times reports that this is part of a new drive to promote Russian as a global language.
He said 300 million people worldwide used Russian media and that a Cyrillic domain name would be a key part of raising the importance of the language, a task he said was his personal priority as president.
We must do everything we can to make sure that we achieve in the future a Cyrillic Internet domain name — it is a pretty serious thing. It is a symbol of the importance of the Russian language and Cyrillic. … And I think we have a rather high chance of achieving such a decision.
Medvedev is the most tech-savvy president Russia has had to date. He has publicly used his mobile phone to connect to the Internet and claims to surf online every morning for news (ED: Feel free to comment here Dmitry).
The body responsible for granting Russia’s wishes on this subject is ICANN, the organisation responsible for assigning domain extensions. They are discussing the possibility of true IDN domain extensions at their meeting in Paris later this month. Russia has proposed that it be allowed the .рф (.rf) extension, standing for “Russian Federation”.
If Russian is successful it will become the first country to have a true IDN. While other IDN domain registrations are currently available from some gTLD and ccTLD Registries, the extensions themselves have remained in the Latin character set.
However ICANN are likely to bring up the unresolved dispute over the .SU (Soviet Union) extension. After many requests to the operators to “to freeze new registrations”, this extension is still being actively promoted.
In this authors opinion, there is a good chance that the Russians will accept decommissioning of .SU in exchange for the new IDN extension. Such high profile support for the campaign would instantly move obstacles at the RU/SU operator. It may even impress ICANN, as an indication that their future talks and position in Russia would be taken much more seriously.
With that in mind, it would seem a strategic move to register .SU domains now. There is a good chance that a condition of decommissioning .SU would be a migration of the users to this new domain. Holding a registration could ensure your rights in the new extension without needing to further apply.