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Apple accused of counter-revolutionary pricing in Russia

Tovarishch Cook accused of sending retailers to gulag unless they follow price list

Russia's anti-monopoly regulator has taken a bite out of Apple, finding that Cupertino's local outpost fixed iPhone prices in the country.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service's (FAS) investigation found that the company fixed iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 products in the retail supply chain.

Not only does the FAS say Apple set retail prices for 16 retailers in Russia, it followed up with any retailers it thought were flogging phones at “inappropriate” prices.

After a seven-month investigation, the regulator also says it believes Apple had the power to terminate resale agreements if it didn't like the sticker price.

The FAS statement (in Russian here) says it got involved in August 2016, ahead of the October launch of the iPhone 6 in Russia.

“The investigation revealed that from the start of official sales in Russia Apple iPhone 5s models, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus,” resellers stuck with Apple's recommended retail prices, and stayed in line for about three months.

The FAS hasn't announced whether it will fine Apple. Before contemplating that or other sanctions it will publish its full investigation later this month. Apple will then have three months to decide whether or not to challenge the ruling.

The Financial Times reports the fine could be as high as 15 per cent of Apple's sales of offending devices in Russia.

Last year, Google was hit with a loose-change penalty of just under US$7 million by the agency for anti-competitive conduct in the Android software ecosystem. The FAS also, last November, launched a probe into Microsoft after a complaint from Kaspersky. ®

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