Nick Wilsdon at Multilingual Search quotes a Russian news story in which Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev says “We must do everything we can to make sure that we achieve in the future a Cyrillic Internet domain name — it is a pretty serious thing. It is a symbol of the importance of the Russian language and Cyrillic.”
IDNs are “internationalized domain names” — which basically means domains that use non-Latin characters. The Internet wasn’t exactly designed to support IDNs, particularly in URLs, but this is about to change in a big way.
China has historically been the most vocal advocate for IDNs, but now Russia is making noise as well. ICANN is in the process of testing IDNs right now and has stated that it wants to have a formal process in place for supporting them by the end of this year.
IDNs are the last major step toward creating a truly user-friendly Internet for people who don’t speak English and don’t use Latin characters — which is quite a few people on this planet. I would not be surprised to see both China and Russia not only embrace IDNs but require foreign companies to register them if they wish to do business in their countries.