Soviet Union Domain Still Kicking

The Soviet Union may be in the dustbin of history, but sixteen years after the superpower's collapse, Web sites ending in the Soviet ".su" domain name have been rising. Registrations increased 45% this year alone as bloggers, entrepreneurs and die-hard communists all acted as part of a small but growing online community resisting repeated efforts to extinguish the online Soviet outpost. Many Web entrepreneurs also see potential profits in the domain, grabbing instantly recognizable names already claimed in other, better known domains. Vladimir Khramov, a network administrator from Moscow, said he bought "" last year simply to acquire an easy-to-remember ending for his e-mail address.

The Internet's key oversight agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and its predecessors have made several efforts since the 1990s to eliminate the ".su" address, though all failed. In late 2006, ICANN even sought advice from the community on how best to revoke outdated suffixes. Yet the resistance continued, and the phase-out seems to be in a stalemate. The domain continues to work normally, but listed in records as "being phased out." "There are no technical issues," said John Crain, ICANN's chief technical officer. "It all comes down to politics."

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