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Kremlin pushes Cyrillic alphabet net

Nationalism online

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Recently-installed Russian president Dmitry "Vladimir Putin" Medvedev has pressed for internet authorities to change the web's naming system to allow domain names in the Cyrillic alphabet.

"We must do everything we can to make sure that we achieve in the future a Cyrillic Internet domain name," Medvedev told journalists in Moscow, reuters reports.

The Cyrillic alphabet is named after Saint Cyril, a 9th century Greek missionary.

Medvedev said Cyrillic web addresses are vital to promote Russian interests. "It is a symbol of the importance of the Russian language and Cyrillic and it is not a bad sphere of co-operation. And I think we have a rather high chance of achieving such a decision in the internet world," he said.

"We should do everything possible to get domain names assigned in Cyrillic characters in the future. This is a serious matter."

Currently all domains are in Latin script. Russian sites carry the extension ".ru", but the Kremlin wants Cyrillic addresses to carry the extension ".rf", for Russian Federation. But in Cyrillic script.

Much of the current Kremlin administration's popularity with ordinary Russians stems from the sense of national pride its hardline policies have restored. Capitalising on that nationalism online seems an obvious move.

The call is not a new one however, and ICANN, the body that oversees the internet's naming systems, is already on the path to approving Cyrillic domains, as well as other scripts.

Cynics might suggest that the Kremlin is keen on the change to extend the stranglehold it has over Russian media to the internet. Recently LiveJournal, a San Francisco-based blogging platform popular in Russia, was flogged to Putin-favoured oligarch Aleksandr Mamut. ®

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