Last Thursday the new .РФ (RF) domain name officially opened to public registration. The Registrar announced that 38’000 domains were registered that day alone, taking the total close to 200’000 registrations.
The .РФ (RF) domain extension is the first of a new generation of completely Internationalised Domain Name (IDN). Although some Registries have allowed foreign character registrations (IDN) of the domain term, the domain extensions (COM/NET etc) were only available in Latin characters.
This marks an important step for the Runet. Besides the obvious issues of language comprehension, users will no longer need to change their keyboard layout while typing a .РФ (RF) domain URL into their browser or search bar.
Although it should be noted here that Google has done a great job at dealing with Russian-queries in English (see this search for “дом” (house) which correctly appears when you type “ljv” in the English keyboard layout).
The .РФ (RF) domain launch has not been without controversy. ICANN had pushed hard for the Russian Registry to relinquish the old .SU (Soviet Union) domain name. They “urged the current .SU operators to make it clear to the .SU registrants the issues surrounding the domain, as well as to freeze new registrations until its future is clear.”
Their delegation was promptly sent to Moscow and returned with assurances of compliance and “understanding” which they made public. These were strangely at odds with the public statements from the Russian Registry, in the Russian press. Shortly after the Registry lowered the SU price and introduced an IDN version.
This trail of events led me to believe that the .РФ (RF) and honor of the first global IDN might be a peace offering to get closure on the SU saga. In any case, Russia is the only country to be represented by three domain name extensions!
If you’d like to pick up an .РФ (RF) domain name then I can recommend GlobusDomains. As way of disclosure, I am connected to the company but they do a great job on Russian registrations.