Runet ( _ru. Руне́т, short for Russian Internet) is the name Russian-speaking Internet users commonly use to call the segment of Internet written or understood in the Russian language.

The name

It is believed Raffi Aslanbekov invented the term in the spring of 1997. [ru icon [ Что Великий Дядя думал 11-го июня 1997-го года:] first documented mentioning of "РУНЕТ", 11 June, 1997] The Internet culture was first slowly spreading through Russian language people from all over the world. Usage of the word "Runet" later becomes almost official and is now used in the title of the "Runet Prize" given out yearly and supported by the governmental Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications ("FAPMC"). The FAPMC-supported educational portal on the Russian language, "", shows "Рунет" listed [ru icon [ Expanded electronic version of spelling dictionary] — report on new inclusions of Aug. 24, 2001] in the 2001 electronic version of a spelling dictionary issued by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Some people may consider Runet a cultural formation centered in largest Russian cities and represented by the ".ru" domain (the mentioned dictionary denotes it as "Russia's Internet"). But many see it reasonable to generally distinguish Runet as a spoken term by the usage of the Russian language, not necessarily by a ".ru" domain or a server physically located within the Russian Federation (many Russian servers aren't). Nor is Runet limited to WWW-servers as there are vast other-type Russian resources such as email groups, FTP space and large local Intranets (such as "Tonet" which is limited to Tomsk Oblast). In addition to Russian nationals and citizens, Runet includes millions of Russian-speaking residents of former Soviet Republics, Israel, the US, and other countries — there are significant Russian-speaking diasporas around the globe.

Nowadays there are similar words for national so-called "Nets" of former Soviet Republics: "Uznet" for Uzbekistan, "Kaznet" for Kazakhstan, "ByNet" for Belarus, "UaNet" for Ukraine, as well as of ethnic republics within the Russian Federation, such as "TatNet".

Early history

Retrospectively, "networking" of "data" in the Russian language can be traced to the spread of mail and journalism in Russia, and information transfer by technical means came to Russia with the telegraph and radio (besides, a 1837 fantasy novel "Year 4338", by the 19-century Russian philosopher Vladimir Odoevsky, contains predictions such as "friends' houses are connected by means of magnetic telegraphs that allow people who live far from each other to talk to each other" and "household journals" "having replaced regular correspondence" with "information about the hosts’ good or bad health, family news, various thoughts and comments, small inventions, as well as invitations" [ [ Blogging Predicted by a 19th-century Russian Prince] —, 10.10.2005 (copy at] ).

Computing systems became known in the USSR by the 1950s. Starting from 1952, works were held in the Moscow-based Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Engineering (headed by Sergei Lebedev) on automated missile defense system which used a "computer network" which calculated radar data on test missiles through central machine called M-40 and was interchanging information with smaller remote terminals about 100—200 kilometers distant. [ru icon cite book
last = Бурцев
first = Всеволод
title = Московская научная школа академика С.А.Лебедева в развитии вычислительной техники.
url =
publisher = Информационные технологии и вычислительные системы. 2002-Вып.3
format = журнал
location = М.
year = 2002
id = 3
pages = 42—43
] The scientists used several locations in the USSR for their works, the largest was a massive test range to the West from Lake Balkhash. In the meantime amateur radio users all over USSR were conducting "P2P" connections with their comrades worldwide using data codes. Later, a massive "automated data network" called "Express" was launched in 1972 to serve needs of Russian Railways.

From early 1980s the All Union Scientific Research Institute for Applied Computerized Systems ("VNIIPAS") was working to implement data connections over the X.25 telephone protocol. A test Soviet connection to Austria in 1982 existed, in 1982 and 1983 there were series of "world computer conferences" at VNIIPAS initiated by the U. N. where USSR was represented by a team of scientists from many Soviet Republics headed by biochemist Anatoly Klyosov; the other participating countries were UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, FRG, GDR, Italy, Finland, Philippines, Guatemala, Japan, Thailand, Luxembourg, Denmark, Brazil and New Zealand. [ru icon [ Двадцать лет спустя, или как начинался Интернет в Советском Союзе] — expanded [ article] originally from Ogonyok magazine №45, 2001.]

Also, in 1983 the "San Francisco Moscow Teleport (SFMT)" project was started by VNIIPAS and an American team which included George Soros. It resulted in the creation in the latter 90s of the data transfer operator "SovAm" (Soviet-American) "Teleport". Meanwhile, on April 1, 1984 a Fool's Day hoax about "Kremlin computer" Kremvax was made in English-speaking Usenet. There are reports of spontaneous Internet (UUCP and telnet) connections "from home" through X.25 in the USSR in as early as 1988. In 1990 a "GlasNet" non-profit initiative by the US-based Association for Progressive Communications sponsored Internet usage in several educational projects in the USSR (through Sovam).

Mass usage

The mass-usage history of the Russian Internet ascends to the development of analog modem-based computer networks in Soviet cities, primarily in scientific institutions. The first one to connect UNIX email hosts country-wide (including Soviet Republics) was the "Relcom" organization which formed on August 1st, 1990 at the Kurchatov nuclear physics institute in Moscow. They were functioning together with partner programming cooperative "Demos", named after the Soviet-made DEMOS Unix-like operating system. In August 1990 they established regular email routing with an Internet node in Helsinki University over a paid voice line.In 1990—1991 Relcom's network was rapidly expanding, it joined EUnet and was used to spread news about the Soviet coup attempt of 1991 worldwide while coupers through KGB were trying to suppress mass media activity on the subject. [ [ A Computer Network for Democracy and Development] — an August, 1991 report by Larry Press, a computer science professor at California State University] After the fall of the USSR many former Soviet state-controlled structures were inherited by the Russian Federation, vast telephone networks among them. [ [ Russian Telecommunications: Crisis Creation of Infrastructure in 1992] —1992 study by Gordon Cook, a telecom analyst] With the transformation of the economy, market-based telecommunication industries grew quickly, various ISPs appeared.

Meanwhile, the first Russian FidoNet node reportedly started in October 1990 in Novosibirsk, and the USSR was included in FidoNet's "Region 50". Russian FidoNet activity did contribute to development of Runet, as mass-networking over BBSes was for a time more popular than over the Internet in the early 90s.

By the mid 1990s, computer networks (where TCP/IP was replacing UUCP) appeared in many branches of regular life and commerce in Post-Soviet states. The Internet became a popular means of communication for anyone in the world who spoke Russian. National so-called "Nets" of former Soviet Republics began to occur (e.g. "Uznet", "Kaznet" and others).

Runet Prize organizers formally consider Runet as starting with the registration of the .ru domain on April 7, 1994. Thus, in 2004 the first Runet Prize award ceremony was dedicated to "10 years of Runet". A separate count is held for the creation of the 'Soviet Internet' (the Soviet .su domain was registered on September 19, 1990, before the state dissolved in 1991). In 2005 there was a conference in the Kurchatov Institute on the domain's 15 year anniversary. The domain still functions, and registration is available through a Russian-based registrar.

Since 1997, the Russian Internet Forum (RIF) annual conference is held which goal is to discuss the development of the Runet. It is attended by members of the telecom and software industries, web content makers, representatives of state institutions.


The prominent Public Opinion Foundation "FOM" (ФОМ) in March 2007 issued a report that found 28 million people 18+ in Russia (25%) had used the internet within the last six months (monthly users 23.9/21%; daily 10.1/9%) [ [ Project "The Internet in Russia/Russia on the Internet". 18th Release. Winter 2006-2007] — FOM 23.03.2007, Population Poll ] . In November 2006 "TNS Gallup Media" in a report called by some sources "first quality Internet audience research in Russia" put a monthly Russian audience at more than 15 million. [ru icon [ Ежемесячная аудитория Рунета — больше 15 миллионов человек] — TNS Gallup report summary, 24.11.2006] The "" monitoring project found 1,001,806 WWW-addresses within .ru and .su responding in March 2008. [ru icon [ Рунет в марте 2008 года: домены, хостинг, география сайтов] —, March, 2008] The national domain registrar RU-Center announced creation of millionth .ru domain on September 17, 2007 (about 200 thousand of domains are thought to be 'parked' by squatters).

On April 3, 2008, the RIF-2008 was opened by president-elect of Russia Dmitry Medvedev who said in the opening address to the forum that he estimates Runet to be populated by 40 million users, or 28 percent of the population. He also stated that Russian sites do $3 billion in annual transactions and have $370 million in advertising revenue. [ [ Russia’s New Leader: Fan of the Internet] — The Lede at The New York Times, April 14, 2008] Today Runet's business sector is constantly developing, with many mass media websites, e-commerce, and other resources. Runet's largest online community [ru icon [ Yandex researched Russian-language blogosphere] — Yandex company news, Sept. 26, 2006] is made up of the Russian-speaking users of the USA-based blogging platform LiveJournal, widely known as 'ЖЖ' ('ZheZhe', short for Zhivoy Zhurnal ( _ru. живой журнал), Russian for "live journal"). In fall 2006 the Moscow-based firm SUP Fabrik joined forces with LiveJournal to supply users who write in Cyrillic symbols with Russian-oriented extra services and the next year bought the whole project out from previous owner SixApart. Nowadays a public LiveJournal account has the "3rd statesman" in Russia Sergey Mironov.


The technical backbone of Runet at first relies on the world's international physical networks, and second much of "Cyrillic traffic" can be localized to telecom industries in the Russian Federation, other ex-USSR countries, Israel, Western Europe and the USA. In Russia, broadband connections are widespread only in several of the largest cities with a total of roughly 3 million subscribers as of 2007. Customer billing based on amount of transferred megabytes is common. Many of people in Russia still use dial-up, and connection prices in regions are considered expensive by many; remnant Soviet-era wires, when used, provide poor connection quality. Home computers and Internet are more popular in the North-Western part of the country and in several Siberian regions, where many scientific institutions and naukograds are located. The "digital divide" is more apparent in Central-European and Southern (traditionally "agricultural") regions. [ru icon [ Развитие Интернета в разных субъектах Российской федерации] — Rumetrika/FOM report, 2007-01-10]

Plenty of local commercial ISPs function in large cities, but most of the existing country-wide cable lines are held by former "monopolists" such as the state-controlled Rostelecom and the railways-affiliated Transtelecom. Coverage by mobile phone networks with digital services such as GPRS is almost total. In year 2007 the Golden Telecom company constructed massive Wi-Fi network in Moscow for commercial use which was recognized the largest urban wireless network in the world. [ [ What is Golden WiFi?] — Golden Telecom reference]

Since year 2002 the "Electronic Russia" long-term national programme has been being implemented with a goal to provide inner governing bodies with variety of electronic services (most of state institutions have by now built their websites, following Government decree issued in February 2003). It is criticized though as some of the funds assigned are suspected to be stolen or improperly invested by corrupt officials.

In October 2007 then-vice-prime-minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that all of the schools in Russia (about 59,000) were connected to the Internet, but later concerns were publicized that there were problems with a contractor to serve them. Also in December 2007, as a follow-up to the noted Ponosov's Case, which dealt with the use of illegal software in a Russian school, plans were announced to officially test Linux in the schools of Perm Krai, Tatarstan and Tomsk Oblast to determine the feasibility of further implementing Linux-based education in the country's other regions. [ru icon [ Школьный Linux будут внедрять все ведущие Linux-компании России] — LinuxCenter.Ru, 03/12/2007]

ee also

* Communications in Russia
* Web brigades
* Internet Exchange Points in Russia
* Russian Wikipedia
* Preved
* How does one patch KDE2 under FreeBSD?


External links

* [ Gorny, Eugene (2006): A Creative History of the Russian Internet.] — PHD thesis, Goldsmiths College, University of London
* [] ru icon
* [ Russian internet resources] — British Library links collection
* [ Project "The Internet in Russia/Russia on the Internet"] by FOM (Public Opinion Foundation)
* [ ‘Electronic Russia’ portal] English disclaimer

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