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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki would not say definitively whether the company took material from Alexei Navalny, a prominent Kremlin critic, at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the country’s elections.

in one Interview Along with Bloomberg, Wojcicki said the company retained “freedom of expression” as a core value.

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“One of the things that’s important to us at YouTube is that we enable a lot of voices and we enable people to express themselves and really celebrate freedom of expression,” Wojcicki said.

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However, it did qualify that YouTube needs to keep several things in mind when dealing with foreign governments.

Both Apple and YouTube’s parent company Google have been accused of “political censorship” after the companies removed the Navalny-made app under pressure from the Kremlin.

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The app encouraged Russians to vote for opposition candidates most likely to defeat members of Putin’s ruling party. It disappeared from the company’s store on 17 September, the day the country’s parliamentary elections were held.

The Kremlin had argued that refusing to remove the apps would amount to foreign interference in Russian elections.

Navalny accused the “almighty Big Tech” of kneeling the Kremlin.

“Giants Apple and Google have complied with the demands of the Kremlin and removed our app from their stores,” Navalny wrote in a Twitter thread. “My dear YouTube has removed our video, and Telegram Messenger has blocked our bot.”

“These programs, which Putin calls ‘extremists,’ only contained information about opposition candidates in your constituency,” he said. “According to law and common sense, each of us has the right to campaign for (or not to vote) for any candidate.”

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When asked whether YouTube had removed Navalny’s video at the request of the Russian government, Wojcicki refrained from responding directly.

“We definitely get requests from governments, and we look and consider why we’re getting requests? What’s actually happening on the ground? And based on a whole bunch of different factors, we make decisions. are,” Wojcicki said. “Those requests are not always the ones that make sense for us to have respect but in some cases, we will honor them in that country.”

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Granthshala Business has reached out to Wojcicki for additional comment and will update this story accordingly.