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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

One Million .Ru Addresses and Counting

The Russian Internet passed a milestone on Monday as the millionth .ru domain name was registered, which effectively means there are now 1,000,000 web sites ending with the .ru suffix.

A company called Cyberbox Ltd. registered "Hanti.ru" just after 1 a.m. Monday, reaching the million mark, said Andrei Vorobyov, a spokesman for Ru-Center, the nonprofit organization in charge of registering .ru domain names.

"They put in a lot of requests," Vorobyov said. "Evidently, they very much wanted to get the millionth domain name."

Ru-Center, which has been running a public-relations campaign to draw attention to the milestone, got a flood of registration requests in the past few days as companies competed to grab the millionth domain name, Vorobyov said.

Souvenir coins and T-shirts are being handed out to celebrate the event, which reflects the growing size of the .ru zone of the Internet, colloquially known as RuNet.

By comparison, there are 11.1 million domain names ending with .de (Germany), 6.2 million with .uk (the United Kingdom) and 6.15 million with .cn (China), according to figures provided by Ru-Center.

The .ru suffix is the eighth-most popular national Internet suffix, coming in just ahead of .ca (Canada), which has about 900,000 domain names, and behind .us (the United States), which has about 1.3 million. The true number of U.S. web sites is much larger, however, since most of them end with .com.

Little information exists about Cyberbox, the company that pushed RuNet past the million mark.

A phone number listed for Cyberbox was in Seychelles, and attempts to connect to it were unsuccessful. A message sent to company's e-mail address was unanswered Monday.

It appears to be a company that buys up domain names to use for advertising purposes, Vorobyov said.

According to Ru-Center, it has several thousand domain names, including Afisga.ru and Deliotte.ru, which sloppy typists may find by accident when trying to visit the web sites of Afisha magazine or Deloitte auditors. Some of the company's domain names hint at X-rated content, such as Orgazm-news.ru and Ingushgirls.ru.

Vorobyov denied that Cyberbox was a cybersquatter, instead calling it a company of "registration professionals."

Cybersquatting is the practice of buying up the domain names for various trademarks and reselling them at a higher cost to the trademark owners. Russian cybersquatters have previously taken over corporate addresses such as Kodak.ru, which led the local subsidiary of Eastman Kodak to wage a court battle over the rights to it.

Such practices mean that Ru-Center's million mark is not necessarily something to celebrate, said Ilya Segalovich, a co-founder of the Yandex web portal.

"This number of 1 million domains is a technical figure," he said. "Many of these domains don't really exist, or at least they don't show unique content. A lot of them are just nonsense."

Still, the milestone does show how much RuNet has grown since its founding, said Segalovich, who works as Yandex's chief technology officer.

"Of course, it does reflect the growth of RuNet, but the real size of RuNet does not correspond to 1 million sites," he said. "It is much smaller if you count the number of real, living sites that offer unique information or a unique viewpoint."

RuNet dates back to 1994, when the .ru suffix was created to replace .su, which had previously represented the Soviet Union. The .su suffix was created in September 1990, about a year before the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

A small .su zone still exists on the Internet. Vorobyov said there were about 10,000 .su domain names, and about 300 new ones are registered each month.

"There are absolutely no political underpinnings to that," Vorobyov said. "The .su zone has many handsome domain names that are still free. Many brands that want to register in .ru but find that all the good domain names are taken go to .su instead."