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Yandex Says Google Shutting Others Out From Russian Android Devices

The logo of Yandex is pictured at the entrance of the company's headquarters in Moscow.

Russian Internet giant Yandex has requested that Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service investigate Google for violating Russian legislation, news agency RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.

The regulator now has one month to consider the request from Yandex, Russia's top search engine and provider of a range of digital services, such as Yandex.Maps and Yandex.Music, a music streaming service.

Yandex claims that its mobile applications are being shut out of Google Play, the application store for Google's Android mobile operating software. A recent report by U.S. investment firm Morgan Stanley found that 70 percent of smartphones in Russia run on Android software.

Yandex's head of product distribution, Yury Vecher, wrote on news website Slon.ru that the company lodged the complaint after finding it impossible to have its services — which mirror those of Google's, but are often better tailored for the Russian market — installed on Android devices sold in Russia.

"First, we were faced with the fact that Google does not allow manufacturers to install our search bar on the home screen of the device," Vecher said, "and then there were restrictions on other applications, such as the Yandex browser app."

Now, according to Vecher, Google has signed agreements with some Russian manufacturers requiring that their Android devices come with Google services and applications as pre-installed features of the phone.

This prohibits even Yandex applications that Russian users might find useful — even those with no Google analogue such as Yandex.Taxi — from being included as standard fare on a Russian Android device.

"It's a question of transparent and fair conditions for access to the [market]," Vecher said, arguing that Google's behavior is hindering open competition and slowing the development of the Android app ecosystem.

Although studies show that Russian users will seek out Yandex's Android applications on their own, the inability to have them loaded as a default is a serious hinderance to the company's mobile growth, Vecher said.

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