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I kept thinking about using Cyrillic characters in command names with PDFTeX engine. It looks to me so far that if I stay with 8-bit encoding and assign category code 11 to all Cyrillic letters except ё/Ё, this would be a working solution, except that bookmarks created with hyperref will be misencoded.

A workaround to fix PDF bookmarks created with hyperref would be to temporarily set category codes back to 13 for sectioning commands, and to not use commands with Cyrillic letters inside sectioning commands, or to use \texorpdfstring, like so:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[T2A]{fontenc}
\usepackage[cp1251]{inputenc}
\usepackage[russian]{babel}

\usepackage[unicode]{hyperref}

\catcode`л=11\relax
\catcode`п=11\relax
\catcode`к=11\relax

\newcommand{\лк}{«}
\newcommand{\пк}{»}

\begin{document}

{\catcode`л=13\relax
\section{Раздел «Первый»}}

{\catcode`л=13\relax
\gdef\pdfbookmarkname{Раздел «Второй»}}
\section{\texorpdfstring{Раздел \лк Второй\пк}{\pdfbookmarkname}}

\end{document}

This document, when compiled, has properly encoded bookmarks.

What would be an efficient way to set category code for the whole range of Cyrillic letters, except ё/Ё?

  • do not set category codes in that way you will break latex's encoding support completely, use UTF-8 inputencoding then you can input latin and cyrillic without changing encoding – David Carlisle Jul 7 '18 at 11:10
  • @DavidCarlisle, i cannot use Cyrillic letters in command names with UTF-8 encoding and PDFTeX engine. – Alexey Jul 7 '18 at 11:13
  • @DavidCarlisle, what will this break in addition to hyperref? – Alexey Jul 7 '18 at 11:14
  • the price you pay for an 8-bit system. If you need more why not use luatex or xetex which are set up for unicode characters. making things catcode 11 just works for some undocumented subset of T2A that happens to be the same as cp1251 and will work in some simple cases, but really breaks core latex mechanisms – David Carlisle Jul 7 '18 at 11:16
  • @DavidCarlisle, my question is specifically about PDFTeX engine, XeTeX is unavailable. I am trying to find a least intrusive solution to fix PDF bookmarks in a third-party document encoded Windows-1251 and using russlh package. – Alexey Jul 7 '18 at 11:20

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