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A man walks past an Apple billboard in Moscow. (file photo)

A Russian government regulator has slapped a fine of more than $12 million on U.S. tech giant Apple for "abusing" its dominant market position by giving preference to its own applications.

"Apple was found to have abused its dominant position in the iOS distribution market through a series of sequential actions which resulted in a competitive advantage for its own products," the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) said in a statement on April 27.

"On April 26, 2021, the FAS of Russia imposed a turnover fine on Apple Inc of 906.3 million rubles ($12.1 million) for violating anti-monopoly legislation," the statement said.

FAS said the decision came after ruling in favor of a complaint brought against Apple by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab.

Apple told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on April 27 that it "respects the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of Russia, but does not agree with the decision" and is appealing the ruling.

The move by FAS comes after Moscow earlier this month enforced controversial legislation demanding that smartphones, tablets, and computers sold in the country come with pre-installed domestic software and apps in what was described by authorities as an effort to promote Russia's tech companies.

However, critics say the measure, which requires all devices with Internet access sold in the country to have pre-installed approved software produced by Russian firms, is the latest attempt to tighten state control over the Internet.

Failure to observe the new requirements will result in fines starting in July.

Western technology firms have been facing increasing scrutiny in Russia in recent months under the pretext of fighting extremism and protecting minors.

Twitter has been punitively slowed down over a failure to delete content authorities said is illegal, while Google, Facebook, and TikTok have all come under fire.

In 2019, Russia passed legislation on the development of a "sovereign Internet" network that would cut off the country's access to the World Wide Web, a move critics say is meant to muzzle free speech.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Prosecutors are seeking a 16-year sentence for Igor Lyakhovets, the former chief of the Moscow police's illegal drugs department. (file photo)

Prosecutors have asked the Moscow City Court to hand down prison terms ranging between 7 years and 16 years to five former police officers suspected in the illegal apprehension of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in 2019.

One of the defendants' lawyers, Aleksei Gubkin, said on April 27 that the prosecutor in the high-profile case asked the court to sentence the former chief of the Moscow police's illegal drugs department, Igor Lyakhovets, to 16 years, his ex-subordinates Maksim Umbetbayev, Roman Feofanov, and Akbar Segaliyev to 12 years, and Denis Konovalov to 7 years in prison.

The trial is being held behind closed doors.

The five ex-police officers were arrested in late January 2020 and charged later with the abuse of service duties, the falsification of evidence, and the illegal handling of drugs.

In September, the suspects were additionally charged with "committing a crime in an organized group," which carries stricter penalties.

Golunov, 38, who works for the Latvia-based information outlet Meduza, was arrested in June 2019 in Moscow for allegedly attempting to sell illegal drugs.

He was released several days later after the charges were dropped following a public outcry.

The case sparked an investigation into Golunov's detention and also into why he suffered bruises, cuts, a concussion, and a broken rib during the ordeal.

The police officers who detained Golunov were later fired along with their supervisor for violating the journalist's rights.

After Golunov’s release, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Major General Yury Devyatkin, the head of the Moscow police department's drug control directorate, and Major General Andrei Puchkov, the police chief in Moscow's West administrative region, over the case.

Authorities announced in November 2019 that the case had been classified, a decision harshly criticized by Golunov's lawyers, who called the move an attempt to cover up the "wrongful arrest" of their client.

In a rare move, the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow's Western District apologized to Golunov in February 2020 for his illegal prosecution.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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