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Russia is a powerhouse of a country on the world stage. Yet how it maintains power within is questionable. Citizens experience constant surveillance and are prohibited from criticizing the government and the status quo.
Thankfully, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can grant Russian citizens security from the watchful eyes of the Roskomnadzor – the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media. It’s worth noting that this service is responsible for blocking various VPNs in the country, such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN. That is why you won’t find these providers in our list of recommendations.
Alternatively, you can also use a VPN for Russia to access Russian content from abroad, such as websites and streaming services. Whatever your use-cases are, there’s only a handful of services that can securely and effectively deal with Russian censorship.
Best VPNs for Russia: shortlist
Don’t want to get put in jail for exercising free speech in Russia? Here’s a quick look at the best VPNs for Russia:
|#||PROVIDER||CATEGORY SCORECATEGORY SCORE|
Best VPN for Russia
VPN for streaming Russian content
VPN for Russia with best anti-censorship measures
Cheapest VPN for Russia
VPN for Russia with the largest server network
You might be surprised at the absence of some well-known VPN names, for example, NordVPN. That’s because it’s one of the services that was blocked by Roskomnadzor, along with ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Hola! VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, and Speedify VPN.
How to get the best VPN for Russia
Although the benefits are enormous, getting a Russia VPN is pretty straightforward. Just follow these simple steps:
- Choose an effective Russia VPN. Our top choice is Surfshark, currently available for 83% off!
- Install the VPN on your device and connect to any server
- Relax as the veil of Russian censorship is lifted!
Why do you need a VPN for Russia?
The Russian government is notorious for online surveillance, censorship, and dishing out severe consequences for not complying with the law. Numerous websites are restricted under the guise of public security when in reality, those in power are stifling the voices of political opposition.
Additionally, the online services that do work in Russia can only do so because of compliance with various data retention laws in the country. In essence, Russia is authoritarian to the core.
Why does Russia ban VPNs?
To make matters worse, Roskomnadzor recently announced which VPNs are blocked in the country. On September 3rd, 2021, it mentioned NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Hola! VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, and Speedify VPN. The usual story is that this prevents access to illegal websites that promote violence, guns, drugs, extremism, pornography, and other heinous activities.
Of course, it’s a well-known fact that VPNs are actually restricted for political reasons. Citizens frequently use VPNs to access blogs and news sites that the regime would prefer to silence indefinitely. And the fact that these VPN blocks coincide with the upcoming “elections” is no coincidence either.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first time that the Russian government is attempting to curb VPNs. And luckily for us, it’s usually not very good at it, at least in the long term. But don’t be surprised if your favorite VPNs underperform in the coming months.
The benefits of a VPN in Russia
The added security and privacy of a VPN are crucial for both citizens and visitors. With it, your internet connection is routed through a remote server and secured with military-grade encryption. Then your online activities are unreadable to ISPs (Internet Service Providers), online businesses, and others that are compliant with the Russian government.
By changing your location with a VPN you can also access content that is typically blocked in your country. Plus, you can see what’s it like to live in a different country entirely. And once you are connected to a VPN server, your true IP address is hidden.
However, not just any VPN will do in such a restrictive regime. VPNs are frequently blocked in Russia. That means you’ll probably need to use Tor Browser to access VPN websites and download the software. Alternatively, you’ll need to install the program before entering the country if you’re a visitor.
Furthermore, using a VPN to access prohibited content is illegal in Russia. That’s why you need a service with exceptionally reliable security features. Otherwise, a DNS leak could land you in a cold cell in Siberia.
Best VPNs for Russia – overview
In Russia, you can only rely on the best VPN services on the market. However, access to servers in Russia is also essential if you want to unlock Russian content from abroad. Additionally, these servers need to be virtual as servers actually located in the country must comply with data retention laws. If they don’t, the service is blocked, and the servers are removed before getting checked for residual data.
With these criteria in mind, here are the top five Russia VPN options.
1. Surfshark – best VPN for Russia
WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
24/7 live chat, FAQ
- Strong encryption
- Excellent performance
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Almost zero logs
- 24/7 live chat
- Unlocks Netflix and other platforms
- Great for torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supports plenty of platforms and devices
- No-logs policy hasn't been audited
The best VPN for Russia in 2021 is Surfshark. With jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands, a strict no-logs policy, and incredible security features, you can be confident that this provider will not expose you to the authorities.
First off, this service is equipped with 3200+ RAM-only servers in 65 countries. RAM-only technology ensures that absolutely no data is stored on hard drives for safekeeping. Furthermore, Surfshark utilizes the fast and modern WireGuard tunneling protocol for top-notch performance.
Surfshark is also loaded with exceptional security features, such as CleanWeb against ads and malware. Additionally, you can use Camouflage Mode effectively on restrictive networks in countries like China and, of course, Russia. Plus, you can grab the optional Surfshark One package for additional security for your data and even protection against viruses.
In terms of streaming, Surfshark can efficiently deal with geographical restrictions imposed by a wide range of services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and more. Alternatively, you can partake in P2P activities without worrying about limitations. Otherwise, you can’t even access torrent web pages as those are frequently blocked and shut down by the government. Plus, Whitelister can be used to secure certain apps with the VPN tunnel exclusively.
To get started, you can get a Surfshark free trial on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. The trial lasts seven days and accurately represents the real deal – no limits on bandwidth, unlimited simultaneous connections, or features. After that, subscriptions start at $2.21/month and are insured with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
2. PrivateVPN – top VPN for streaming in Russia
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
24/7 live chat
- Good security
- Mostly privacy-friendly
- Decent global coverage
- Fast speeds
- Apps for main platforms
- Very cheap
- Excellent for Netflix
- Good for torrenting
- 7-day free trial
- Support could be more responsive
- macOS and iOS apps have fewer features
If you’re looking for the best VPN for streaming Russian content from another country – PrivateVPN is the ideal choice. It has specialized servers for streaming, solid connection speed, and reliable geo-unblocking performance.
While PrivateVPN’s server network does not seem impressive (150+ servers in 62 countries), it’s what’s under the hood that matters. The service owns the entire fleet, thus ensuring peak performance and no interference from third parties. Furthermore, excellent connectivity is guaranteed with the tried and tested OpenVPN tunneling protocol.
PrivateVPN offers a reliable kill switch for those conscious about security, plus DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak protection. And for highly restrictive networks, there’s the option to switch on Stealth VPN to combat DPI (Deep Packet Inspection). Additionally, torrenters will be happy to hear that port forwarding is available.
When it comes to streaming, PrivateVPN is one of the most reliable options. It has specialized servers for Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and much more. Additionally, the service is compatible with Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and even Kodi. Naturally, you can also connect to Russian servers from abroad and watch Russian content from anywhere.
To see if PrivateVPN is the right fit, you can get a 7-day free trial on the official website. After that, subscriptions start at $2.00/month and allow you to connect six devices simultaneously. Plus, each subscription is secured with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.
3. VyprVPN – best service for circumventing Russia VPN restrictions
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, Chameleon, WireGuard
24/7 live chat
- Fast speeds
- Excellent security
- Unblocks Netflix and other platforms
- Allows torrenting
- Independently-audited no-logs policy
- Works in China
- 24/7 live chat support
- App for routers
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Decent price
- No anonymous payments
The best tool for getting around Russian censorship measures is VyprVPN. In fact, Roskomnadzor tried to block it before but was unsuccessful. This service is located in privacy-respecting Switzerland, had its no-logs policy audited by a third party, and it’s also one of the most affordable VPNs available.
To start, VyprVPN owns 700+ dedicated servers across 70 countries. The VPN has full ownership of its server fleet, meaning there’s minimal chance of third-party tampering or interference. Plus, the Russian servers are virtual, circumventing the problem of mandatory data retention in the country.
Furthermore, it utilizes the wicked-fast WireGuard tunneling protocol to ensure outstanding performance. Alternatively, users can switch to the proprietary Chameleon protocol, which is exceptional at dealing with online censorship in restrictive countries. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a kill switch and leak protection to keep your IP address secure.
With a single subscription, VyprVPN enables you to connect five different devices simultaneously. While it isn’t much, you can further improve it by installing a VPN on your router. That way, you can advantage of the dedicated router app. Plus, the service does not restrict P2P traffic in any way and even has a split tunneling feature on Windows and Android.
Although VyprVPN is great for security, it’s also not far behind in terms of streaming. The VPN works brilliantly with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more. To top it off, it’s compatible with Android TV, Amazon FireOS, Apple TV, and other streaming platforms.
While VyprVPN lacks a free trial, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. And since pricing plans start at a mere $1.81/month, you’d be foolish to miss out on such a generous offer.
For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.
4. Ivacy VPN – the cheapest VPN for Russia
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP
24/7 live chat
- Excellent security
- Decent global server fleet
- Fast speeds
- Solid knowledge-base and 24/7 live chat
- Very cheap
- Good for Netflix
- Great for torrenting
- Decent choice for China
- Anonymous payment options
- Based in Singapore, a Five Eyes partner
- No kill switch for macOS & iOS
- Less secure protocol for macOS
Ivacy VPN is by far the cheapest Russia VPN that you can get. Naturally, the low price entails some minor drawbacks, but overall it’s a solid choice for security, streaming, and torrenting.
Firstly, Ivacy VPN employs 3500+ servers across 50 countries around the world. Furthermore, OpenVPN is the default tunneling protocol across all apps, although there are other options. A kill switch is in place for additional security, plus IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection.
Some might be disappointed to hear that Ivacy VPN is located in Singapore, a member of the Fourteen Eyes alliance. Thankfully, the VPN has a solid no-logs policy, although an independent audit would be pretty beneficial. The service is also a favorite among torrenting enthusiasts as P2P traffic is unrestricted, and there are port forwarding and split tunneling features.
Streaming performance has room for improvement, as Ivacy VPN can only unblock Netflix US. Luckily, other platforms are also compatible, especially since there are dedicated streaming servers for services like BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. To top it off, a single subscription allows you to connect ten different devices simultaneously.
Ivacy VPN manages to offer meager prices by having an exceptionally lengthy 5-year plan. With it, pricing starts from only $1.33/month. Alternatively, there’s a free 1-day trial or a more extended 7-day trial for $0.99. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Ivacy VPN, read our Ivacy VPN review.
5. Private Internet Access – Russia VPN with biggest server selection
WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Live chat, email
- Good security credentials
- Largest server list (29300 servers)
- Not bad for torrents
- Very cheap
- Unblocks Netflix US
- Privacy-friendly service
- Fast speeds
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Based in the US
- Not good in China
Private Internet Access can unlock the most extensive selection of content from around the world thanks to its exceptionally large number of servers. Abbreviated as PIA, this provider is reasonably fast, affordable, and has the largest server network on this list.
PIA boasts an impressive 29300+ bare-metal servers in 78+ countries. Additionally, it uses the lightning-fast and open-source WireGuard tunneling protocol for excellent performance and security in Russia. Speaking of which, PIA MACE, a Shadowsocks proxy, and an absence of leaks make Private Internet Access a reliable tool against online dangers.
Unfortunately, this VPN is located in the United States, a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance. Yet all doubts are cast aside thanks to the court-proven no-logs policy. Additionally, privacy enthusiasts can use various anonymous payment methods to ensure confidentiality when purchasing the service. Meanwhile, torrenting fans are blessed with unrestricted P2P activities, a SOCKS5 proxy, and split tunneling.
Streaming capabilities are adequate, as PIA can unblock Netflix US, UK, YouTube, and Hulu. However, it does not perform as reliably as other VPNs for streaming. In any case, the VPN has apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and is also compatible with routers, Android TV, and FireOS.
Private Internet Access subscriptions start at $2.03/month and enable you to connect ten devices simultaneously. Unfortunately, the service lacks a free trial, but at least there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Private Internet Access, read our Private Internet Access review.
Best aspects of each VPN for Russia
Russia is a vast country, and people visit it for a wide variety of reasons. Unsurprisingly, VPNs can be used for different purposes as well. Therefore, you should consider your use-cases carefully before picking a VPN for Russia. Here’s a quick reminder of the top perks that each VPN offers.
|Surfshark VPN||Best VPN for Russia|
|PrivateVPN||VPN for streaming Russian content|
|VyprVPN||Russia VPN with anti-censorship measures|
|Ivacy VPN||Cheapest VPN for Russia|
|Private Internet Access||Russia VPN with the biggest selection of servers|
What can I do with a VPN in Russia?
Using a VPN in Russia is like leaving Plato’s cave – you realize that you’ve been shown a fabrication of reality. With it, you can:
- Get around geographical restrictions
- Avoid online censorship
- Ensure privacy and hide personal data
- Protect yourself from online threats, such as malware
Of course, you need to practice extreme caution if you’re using a VPN in Russia, especially if you want to enlighten yourself and get around government-imposed restrictions. While Russia hasn’t made VPN usage illegal, using one to access censored content is illegal. Therefore, you need to employ additional privacy measures, such as a secure operating system and privacy-focused browser. And above all, check for IP and DNS leaks before doing anything.
However, watching Russian content from abroad doesn’t require such extreme measures. All you have to do is use any of the mentioned VPNs, connect to a server in Russia, and access your desired website.
What should I look for in a VPN for Russia?
Just like Russian vodka, your chosen VPN needs to be unfathomably strong. Of course, many qualities make an exceptional product, not just a hefty price tag. When picking a Russia VPN in 2021, consider the following:
- Privacy. Respectable jurisdiction is essential for a VPN. Check that your chosen service isn’t collaborating with the Russian government. Furthermore, it needs an independently audited or court-proven no logs policy.
- Security. A solid VPN needs safeguards against numerous online threats and censorship measures, such as DPI, malware, ads, trackers, and more. Naturally, military-grade encryption is a must.
- Speed. When doing anything on the internet, connection quality is paramount for a good experience. Ensure that your VPN service has modern tunneling protocols, such as WireGuard. Plus, you can keep an eye on the current situation with our VPN speed test.
- Servers. All of the VPNs mentioned above have servers in Russia (virtual ones, thankfully). VPNs typically have information about their networks on their homepage, so be sure to see if it has access to countries you need.
- Price. The VPN market is quite competitive and full of choices for the consumer. Thankfully, that’s a win for us as reliable providers don’t require an excessive VPN cost. Typically, you shouldn’t pay more than around $3 to $5 per month for a long-term plan.
- Compatibility. The average person has more than one technological device at his disposal. Therefore, he needs to verify that his VPN provider is compatible with all of them.
Can I use a free VPN in Russia?
Getting a free Russia VPN is tricky as there are some facts to keep in mind:
- VPNs aren’t illegal in Russia, but they are frequently blocked or restricted if they’re not collaborating with the government.
- Using a VPN to access censored content IS illegal.
- Free VPNs are notorious for collecting and selling data.
Therefore, we can conclude that a free VPN that works in Russia and has local servers could potentially be a government honeypot.
Of course, you can discard such considerations if you have no intention of doing anything illegal in Russia. However, you should still prioritize premium services as they are considerably more reliable than even the best free VPNs. But if you have no other choice, here are some free VPN options for Russia:
- ProtonVPN. This service is a go-to option for many protesters around the world, including recently in Hong Kong. It is based in Switzerland, had its no-logs policy audited by a third party, and has all the essential security features on the free plan. Plus, it doesn’t even have a data limit.
- Atlas VPN. Although based in the US, AtlasVPN has a strict no-logs policy, a kill switch, data breach monitoring, and no data caps on the free plan.
- Windscribe VPN. The biggest drawback of this service is the 10 GB/month data cap. However, it has a greater server selection than your typical free VPN and provides solid security features.
Whether you live in Russia or just want to visit, a VPN is essential for protection against surveillance. Since they aren’t illegal, it’s safe to use them recreationally. However, the frequent blockage of popular VPNs for Russia makes it a challenge to pick the right service. It might work one day and then fail the next.
And if you want to start a revolution, be sure to combine other security and privacy measures, such as antivirus software and password managers, for ultimate protection against the regime.
Is your VPN working reliably in Russia? Which one are you using? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
Are VPNs illegal in Russia?
Using a VPN in Russia is not illegal. However, the government frequently blocks them as citizens are using VPNs to access censored content, which is illegal. Meanwhile, state-sponsored VPNs work fine, yet they provide no benefit in terms of privacy and instead send your data to the government on a silver platter.
Which VPNs have servers in Russia?
Surfshark, PrivateVPN, VyprVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Private Internet Access have virtual servers in Russia. However, it’s worth reiterating that these servers are virtual since physical servers are likely to be seized by local authorities. Additionally, physical servers in Russia would need to comply with data retention laws.
Does NordVPN have servers in Russia?
NordVPN does not have servers in Russia as the government wanted a backdoor to these servers. As such, NordVPN shut down its servers there. Furthermore, the service is usually blocked in the country.
Which VPNs are blocked in Russia?
Roskomnadzor, the service that is responsible for digital communications in Russia, announced that NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Hola! VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, and Speedify VPN are blocked in the country.
Should you use a VPN in Russia?
VPNs aren’t illegal in Russia. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use one to maintain privacy and to avoid mass surveillance. However, some VPN services are blocked so it’s important to choose one that isn’t targeted by the government.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.