Russia's Yandex seeks more time to respond to allegation it broke competition law

MOSCOW, April 1 (Reuters) - Russian internet giant Yandex asked on Thursday for an extra month to respond to accusations that it violated competition law on its search engine at the expense of other companies, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said.

The state agency told Yandex in February that it had created unequal market conditions for general online search services, that it was preferentially promoting its own products and asked it to stop.

Around 20 Russian internet companies signed an open letter, supporting the move by the FAS. In it, they accused Yandex of abusing its dominant market position and urged it to establish a level playing field for fair competition in online searches.

“We are in dialogue with the FAS and are working on the next steps,” Yandex said on Thursday.

In its warning in February, the FAS said it could be forced to initiate antitrust proceedings against Yandex, should the internet company fail to comply. Yandex could face a possible fine if found to have broken competition law.

In February, a Yandex spokesman said: “We are confident in our position and are ready to defend it.”

The FAS said it would decide on what further action to take, including granting the extension, within 10 days. (Reporting by Alexander Marrow Editing by Alexandra Hudson)