In Box

Red Revival

The Soviet Union is dead! Long live the cyber-Soviets! Although the battle to build a socialist future is long over, the fight to keep the Soviet Union alive on the Internet is just heating up. Use of the ".su" country domain — which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers handed to leaders in ...

The Soviet Union is dead! Long live the cyber-Soviets! Although the battle to build a socialist future is long over, the fight to keep the Soviet Union alive on the Internet is just heating up. Use of the ".su" country domain — which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers handed to leaders in Moscow just 15 months before the USSR’s collapse — has grown sevenfold since 2006.

Some have tried to link .su’s growth to increasing Russian nationalism, a trend that is palpable across the country in everything from the Eurovision Song Contest to Moscow’s neo-Soviet haute couture. But the Russian Network Information Center, a private service provider that oversees .su registrations, says that most of that growth occurred simply as a result of supply and demand. Specifically, it slashed prices for a .su domain from $120 to $25 in December 2007. Alexander Vorobyov, the center’s spokesman, insists it’s not capitalizing on Soviet nostalgia. "When you see people willing to pay $30,000 for a popular .su domain name, it can’t be driven only by patriotism. It’s driven by the market saturation of .com and .ru,” he says.

A spin around the .su Internet bears out that logic. Sign up at CCCP.su, and, yes, you get harsh Marxist propaganda — but you also get free e-mail. Hardly models of socialist virtue, the owners of USSR.su are also proudly advertising the sale of KGB.su and Stalin.su to the highest bidder. That’s not to say the .su universe lacks hard-core nationalists. Nashi, a pro-Vladimir Putin youth group responsible for storming the Estonian Embassy in Moscow in 2007, owns a prominent piece of .su real estate, as do countless far-right groups, such as the banned Russian Nazi party and socialist sore losers like the Communist Party of Russia. For the most part, however, the rebirth of the Soviet Internet seems to confirm the death of communism, not its resurrection.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola