As of this month, the iPhone is no longer available on any Russian carrier. You can still get iPhones in Russian, of course, both at independent retail chains and, now, directly from Apple. They're just off the Russian carriers, and Phillip Elmer-DeWitt thinks he knows why. From Fortune:
But what is almost certainly true is that the lack of subsidized pricing and the high import duties and taxes can give an aggressive competitor trying to grow its market share plenty of room to undercut Apple -- and not just in terms of their percentage of the take. Contracts can contain all kinds of sweeteners and the opposite of sweeteners, like the commitment Apple has been known to put into its contracts that require a carrier to buy a larger number of iPhones than that carrier might think it can sell.
The iPhone isn't just a premium product, it's a premium Apple product and Apple cares very deeply about not just the sales of their phones, but the perception of their brand. For carriers, Apple is likely a huge pain in the ass. And not just their no-crapware, no-logos policy, but how you can and can't advertise, or can and can't run sales. In a place with no subsidies, and with far more acquiescent options, it's easy to see carriers pivoting away from Apple and towards those options.
Maybe the less expensive iPhone will be a better match for Russian carriers, or maybe Apple's direct channels, and independent retailers, are just a better fit for Apple in the Russian market.