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Expert Position of the Institute on "Sorcerers"

Online services Ivi, Avito, Cian, Profi.ru, Tutu.ru and others have sent a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia about Yandex's abuse of its dominant position. The claims were caused by a special Yandex widget in the search results, the so-called "sorcerer", which leads the user to the company's services directly. The Institute was closely engaged in this issue, including in the framework of research work for the Eurasian Economic Union, dedicated to the analysis of the digital economy and the identification of restrictive practices in the behavior of participants in the EAEU markets.

Back in the spring, Alexey Ivanov, Director of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, presented the conclusions (PDF, 1.65 Mb) of a BRICS Antimonopoly Center study concerning precisely these aspects of unfair practices across Internet search markets, and also summarized the problems of protecting competition in digital markets in accordance with the results of the report about new ways to protect competition in the digital economy.
 
He noted: “Search platforms today are a window to the world of the Internet, they serve as a bazaar in a medieval city did, where consumers are looking for products and services. The more pleasant the place and the brighter the sign, the more the merchant will earn. The way information is presented in search results is of enormous importance. Yandex and Google are known for luring consumers with special visualization tools in search engine results. How exactly material is presented is based on the latest achievements of behavioral studies, in psychology and other fields, and includes a focus on irrational manifestations. Practice shows that such methods of competition lead to a significant decrease in the profitability of competing services and gains for owners of search platforms in related markets. In my opinion, the time has come to deal with this problem on the territory of the EAEU and to find out to what extent such approaches meet the standards of fair competition."