July 12, 2021, marks 20 years since the establishment of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ (Coordination Center for the Internet Country-Code Top Level Domain), the national Russian registry.
Over these years, significant changes have taken places in the Russian internet industry: the domain registration system has been reorganized (as a result, today there are 89 registrars in .RU and .РФ, accredited in 11 Russian cities; the domain lists are operated by a specialized organization: the Technical Center of Internet; and the ccTLDs’ DNS infrastructure is supported by MSK-IX); the Russian ccTLD .RU has become one of the largest top-level domains in the world (ranked eighth among all TLDs and fifth among two-letter ccTLDs); in 2010, a second ccTLD, the Cyrillic .РФ, was created in Russia: it is the largest Cyrillic domain in the world and the second largest IDN.
The Coordination Center was created in 2001 as a nonprofit organization, co-founded by the Russian Association of Networks and Services (RANS), the Union of Internet Operators, the Regional Public Center of Internet Technologies (ROCIT), and the Russian Institute for Public Networks (RIPN). In 2015, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and the Internet Development Institute were also listed as stakeholders. On June 10, 2019 the activities of one of the founders of the Coordination Center, the Union of Internet Operators, were terminated.
On June 3, 2020, the Russian Federation became another stakeholder of the Coordination Center. Its functions and rights are executed through a proxy of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), while the Ministry of Mass Communications was dropped as a founder based on its application.
One of the Coordination Center’s main tasks is to represent the national registries .RU and .РФ at international and regional industrial organizations. Since 2003, the Coordination Center has been a member of CENTR (Council of European National TLD Registries). In 2006, information on the Coordination Center was added to the IANA database, and in 2007, the center formalized the relationship between the Russian national registry with ICANN through an exchange of official letters and became part of the ccNSO (country code Names Supporting Organization), an organization created from and for top-level country code domain registries and aimed at developing policies and resolving global issues related to the procedures for using top-level country code domains (ccTLDs) within the ICANN structure. In 2010, the Asia-Pacific Association of Top Level Domains (APTLD) Council approved the Coordination Center’s membership application. Thus, the Coordination Center became an associate member of APTLD.
Today the Coordination Center not only takes an active part in the activities of international industrial organizations but also organizes its own events that bring together domain industry experts and specialists from all over the world such as TLDCON, a conference for TLD registrars and registrants from the CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, held since 2008, and the Russian Internet Governance Forum, held since 2010. It is one of the largest national internet governance forums today.
The launch of the second Russian TLD, .РФ, is one of the most noteworthy events in the history of the Coordination Center. In 2008, the idea to introduce a Russian-language domain as soon as possible was supported by then President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. With that, work began to create a Cyrillic domain zone. In October 2008, it received a name: РФ. Under a decision by the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, the functions of the domain registrant were given to the Coordination Center. The first Cyrillic internet addresses were launched on May 12, 2010, right after the domain .РФ was officially delegated to Russia. These were президент.рф and правительство.рф. Almost the entire country knew about the planned launch so the number of registrations in the Cyrillic domain broke all records: on the first day of open registration, the network audience registered over 240,000 domain names.
The Coordination Center’s priority is to ensure the security of the Russian domain space. In 2012, the Coordination Center started cooperating with organizations that are competent in identifying abuse on the internet. These organizations (there are now 10 of them) have the right, vested by the Coordination Center, to require accredited registrars to cancel their domain delegation for websites caught with illegal activities on the internet.
The Domain Patrol project (https://доменныйпатруль.рф) is the showcase of the competent organizations institute. Moreover, the Netoscope project (https://netoscope.ru/) was launched in 2012, the first information and analytical project in Russia dedicated to cybersecurity in the domain space. A special platform was developed within the project where participants can exchange information and improve their search algorithms for malicious resources. The website offers an online service to identify domain names with malicious activity. They are identified and shared by the companies participating in the project.
Youth and special projects have an important place in the activities of the Coordination Center. In 2020, the first online Summer School on Internet Governance was held in Russia. It was organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ jointly with the School of International Relations at St. Petersburg State University as part of the global association, Schools on Internet Governance (SIG). At the time, 68 participants registered for the project, and 38 successfully graduated and received the university’s certificates of supplementary education. In 2021, a second Summer School will be held with over 100 students already registered.
Another project of the Coordination Center, the Explore the Internet & Govern It! Nationwide Championship https://игра-интернет.рф marks its 10th anniversary this year. In these 10 years, over 150,000 young people have taken part in the project, with over 20,000 students and schoolchildren competing in the championship every year. The project’s website boasts over 130 games and 750 quiz questions dedicated to various internet topics, from the history of the net to the rules of behavior and cybersecurity. The tenth Explore the Internet & Govern It! championship will be held this year. Registration opens on August 17, and the championship will be held on November 9-25. The theme of the 2021 championship will be a Digital State.
“The domain industry as a sector of the cyber economy appeared relatively recently: 36 years ago, in 1985, when the first domain was registered. For a long time, the role of registries and general and country-code domains was purely technical. Twenty years ago, when the Coordination Center was established, nobody could imagine that a domain would become the brand of online resource, that legal battles would be held for the right to manage a “beautiful” domain, and the cost of some domains would reach exorbitant numbers on the secondary market. Like in the first years of operations, today the Coordination Center not only manages the domain zones .RU and .РФ but it also promotes the development of the internet in Russia and focuses on cybersecurity. Involving youth in the global internet governance process is a key goal for the center, as is the general improvement of users’ digital literacy. I congratulate all the Coordination Centers’ current and former creators and employees, as well as its friends and partners, our founders, the council members, registrars and registrants. I know that we will continue to move forward together and develop the Russian domain space,” Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ Andrey Vorobyev said.
The website 20cctld.ru was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, where visitors can see the main milestones of the long journey of the Coordination Center and Runet, find unique historical materials and photographs, and learn more about how the domestic domain industry and the internet have developed. On the Coordination Center’s YouTube channel, viewers can watch a video interview with the founders of Runet, thus touching the living history of the development of ICT and the domain market, as well as hear our experts’ opinions about what awaits us in the future.
Congratulations to everyone on the anniversary. Right now the celebrations of the Coordination Center’s 20th anniversary are only being held online under COVID-19 restrictions, but we believe that very soon we will be able to gather all our friends, partners, participants in our video project and everyone who has supported the Coordination Center during these 20 years. We are looking forward to meeting with you in person.