Booking.com fined $17.5 million by Russia for ‘abusing’ market dominance

Russia has imposed a fine of $17.5 million (about Rs. 130 crores) on online travel agency Booking.com for “abusing” its dominant market position, a government regulator said on Thursday.

The move comes as Russia increases its pressure on Western technology companies and several months after authorities fined Apple $12 million (about Rs. 89 crores) for the same violation.

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service said in a statement that Booking.com “has abused its dominant position in the Russian market to provide services by aggregators of information about accommodation facilities.”

He accused the Amsterdam-based travel website of having imposed on hotels and hostels “the obligation to provide and comply with price parity”.

“For hotels, this meant they couldn’t price their services in other sales channels that were lower than the Booking.com aggregator,” the regulator said.

According to the report, the actions of Booking.com “restrict competition in the market and also lead to the violation of the interests of the hotels”.

The regulator said it accepted the case at the request of an NGO that calls itself a supporter of Russian businessmen and was praised by President Vladimir Putin.

Booking.com said it is “disappointed” with the decision, which it intends to “appeal”.

“We have always contributed to the development of the tourism industry and we firmly believe that our practice of price parity is fair and allows Booking.com to maintain the travel ecosystem,” the company said in a statement released by Russian state news agency TASS .

“This is especially important now, at an unprecedented time for the tourism industry, which continues to have a huge impact on Booking.com, our partners and the industry as a whole.”

In April, Russia fined Apple $12.1 million (about Rs. 89 crores) for “abusing” its dominant market position by giving preference to its own applications.

Russia routinely fines Western technology companies for not complying with its legislation.

On Thursday, Russia fined Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for not storing Russian user data on local servers.

Russia blocked several sites that refused to cooperate with authorities, including LinkedIn.


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