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The yearly convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies (formerly known as American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, or just Triple A double S) was held in the far away Los Angeles this November.

Due to some very unfortunate circumstances the Future panel was reduced to one presenter. Our dear colleague Daniela Hristova, who was supposed to give a paper on the linguistic specifics on Russian Internet advertisements, very sadly and unexpectedly passed away just a month before the conference. In addition Aleksandr Berdichevsky, who should have given a paper on some quantitative distinctions between oral speech, written speech and instant messaging in Russian, caught a flu and could not make the trip.

This meant that my contribution, a paper on the politics of Cyrillics on the Internet was the only one at the panel, with Michael S. Gorham serving as discussant. In the paper I showed how Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have reacted very differently to ICANN’s invitation to establish so-called Internationalised Domain Names. While the Russians grabbed the opportunity straight away and have already set up the country code top level domain “.рф”, the Ukrainians have so far been unable to register “.укр” and the Belarusians have ignored the process completely. Russian president Medvedev has connected this process to the interests of the Russian language, and in my opinion the reactions of relevant actors in the three countries show that the Cyrillic alphabet means more to Russians than it does to their Slavic neighbours.

Michael S. Gorham and Dirk Uffelmann, members of the Future of Russian research group, presented papers on other panels at the conference. The representatives of the Future project were well received, and on several occasions recognized as part of “that Bergen group,” an indication that LA is perhaps not as far away after all.