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Russian authorities find Google guilty in antitrust probe

In its initial complaint Yandex asked Russian antitrust authorities to prevent Android phones from being automatically bundled with Google's search engine

Russia's antitrust authority said Monday it had found US Internet giant Google guilty of unfairly keeping rival services off mobile devices in a probe demanded by local search engine provider Yandex.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service deemed Google in breach of a law on "protecting competition" after an investigation launched in February following a complaint by Russia's largest search engine, agency official Vladimir Kudryavtsev told Russian news wires.

Google could face a fine of up to 15 percent of the income it has made from the sector in Russsia over the past year.

In its initial complaint Yandex asked the antitrust authorities to prevent Android phones from being automatically bundled with Google's search engine.

The European Commission is carrying out a similar probe against the US tech giant after initially weighing a settlement that would have allowed competitors to buy space at the top of Google's search results.

Yandex said that it "welcomed" the decision by the Russian watchdog and hoped it would help increase "competition on the market".

"Despite the fact that the European Commission has already started a formal investigation into these same practices, Russia is the first jurisdiction to officially term these practices as anti-competitive," Yandex's press service said.

Google's press office told RIA Novosti news agency that Google would study the decision by the antitrust authorities when the company received it.

Yandex has dominated the Russian market since its founding in 2000.

Much of that initial success came thanks to an advanced search engine that provided much more precise results for entries made in Russian.

It also offered its own map and traffic-tracking services and has recently entered the web advertising market.

The request to investigate Google came as the company has made recent inroads in the Russian market thanks to its popular Android-powered smartphones.