Global Politics

Domain name echoes Soviet times

It has been nearly 20 years since the Soviet Union dissolved, but that hasn't stopped some Russians from using an Internet domain called .su, which stands for the Soviet Union.The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has been trying to get it shut down, but to no avail. Jessica Golloher has the details from Moscow.

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The Soviet Union doesn't really conjure up a warm and fuzzy feeling for many. Some of the highlights include banishment to Siberia, gulags, famine, Stalin, the KGB and the complete lockdown of an entire country. But, there's apparently still nostalgia for the good ol' USSR.

People like middle-aged business owner Elena Arzumanyan don't want their world wide web addresses to end in dot-com or �.ru,� Russia's official address, but in �.su� � as in the Soviet Union.

�Times were different from what we have now,� she said. �People, were more kind, you know, thinking about the country and not their own money. And maybe it will be interesting for our clients that we have this kind of domain. It is something special.�

It's been nearly 20 years since the Soviet Union dissolved, but that hasn't stopped some Russians from using an Internet domain called �.su,� which stands for the Soviet Union. The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has been trying to get it shut down, but to no avail.

Political analyst Dmitri Trenin said nostalgia for the USSR isn't as uncommon as you might think.

�Frankly, I think that there are a lot of people here are still beholden to the the Soviet Union in so many ways,�Trenin said. �It seems to be a symbol of great power. It seems to be a symbol of superiority. Uh, it may be a symbol of those who want to reverse things a little bit in some areas.�

It seems that more than 80 thousand people and organizations would like some sort of a time machine. They include businessmen and women, youth groups, bloggers and Soviet sentimentalists.

One of the most famous groups on �.su� is the Kremlin-backed Nashi youth organization. The nationalistic group uses Soviet-era propaganda on it's website, www.nashi.su to try and recruit new members. Their youth leaders are even called commissars.

Despite the fact that the �.su� domain seems to be relatively popular here in the motherland, not everybody is pleased about it.

Armen Azmeniah thinks it's a stupid, and not to mention scary, and he said he hopes it will eventually go away.

�I'm not a follower of the trend that the Soviet Union was good. I remember. I'm not a fan of that time. People need to find new trends.�

Meanwhile, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers � commonly known as ICANN � has been trying to phase out the domain for quite sometime.

Chris Disspain, chair of the Country Code Name Supporting Organization, a part of ICANN, said, �the problem is that there is currently no policy to deal with retirement. And so it tends to get dealt with, at the moment, as best it can.�

And, Disspain said, since there is no cut and dry rulebook for domain retirement, other authorities would have to get involved and that could get ugly, especially if people are hanging on to the �.su� domain name for nationalistic reasons.

�The United States government has oversight (over domain name designations). So the concept that you would have, in a highly charged political environment, what could be perceived as the US government removing something out of the root, is challenging to say the least,� he said.

So for now, �.su� will be allowed to flourish, at least for the immediate future.

It should also be noted that the Russian organization in charge of the country's domain name isn't really helping matters. The organization actually slashed the fee to register �.su� to about 25 dollars, a sixth of the former price; no real incentive there to switch to the new �.ru�.

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