Russia is one of the most oppressive states in the world when it comes to freedom of expression. Even if you’re a Russian native, you can’t overlook heavy censorship, government surveillance, and the blockage of mainstream websites and services.
As such, surviving on the web with constantly depleting privacy has become a challenge for travelers and citizens in Russia. In this scenario, the only solution for travelers and ex-pats is to rely on the best VPNs for Russia to truly bypass the latest Russian restrictions to take control of their online privacy.
The Russian government heavily monitors and controls the right of its citizens to express their views about the government online. The Russian government is pretty stern towards internet freedom and blocks many foreign websites and services like Hulu and Netflix.
Keeping that in mind, I’m going to share with you 6 of the best VPNs for Russia that work flawlessly in Russia and elsewhere.
But first, let’s go through a brief overview of some good VPNs…
- ExpressVPN – An Overall Best VPN Capable of offering blazing fast speeds.
- Surfshark -Fastest VPN on the market, having servers in Moscow & St. Petersburg.
- NordVPN – Best geo unblocking VPN with 5,500+ servers & obfuscation technology.
- IPVanish – A reliable VPN with powerful features for security and for bypassing geo-blocks.
- CyberGhost – A private VPN with tons of security features and 96 servers in Russia.
- PIA – Well-rounded VPN for addressing privacy and censorship issues in Russia with over 20,000 servers in the world.
Best VPN for Russia in 2021
There are literally hundreds of VPN apps out there. This is why it surely isn’t easy picking the best VPN provider out of all the available ones. To make things easy for you, here are the 6 best VPNs for Russia you can use in 2021:
1. ExpressVPN – Overall Best VPN for Russia
ExpressVPN works in Russia and is my top recommended VPN to use in the region. It is also the safest and fastest of the VPNs you can use. No matter what you use ExpressVPN for, be it torrenting, streaming, or bypassing geo-restricted services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.
If we talk about servers alone, ExpressVPN has expanded its server park to 3,000+ servers in quite a short period. ExpressVPN doesn’t have servers in Russia, that’s obvious, but it has servers in border countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Belarus. You will not find any difficulty in accessing Russian content by paying $6.67/mo .
You get all the basic bells and whistles like an Internet Kill Switch, military-grade encryption, private DNS, and zero-log policy for your complete online anonymity. ExpressVPN is also compatible with all major platforms, including routers, Smart TVs, Apple TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and more.
If we talk about unique features, ExpressVPN offers a Split- tunneling feature, which basically allows you to segregate your secure traffic from your unsecured network traffic.
In short, this is a VPN that you wouldn’t be disappointed with. I was hoping you wouldn’t believe me; check out our extensive ExpressVPN review.
- 3,000+ servers in 94+ countries
- Offers best 24/7 customer support
- 5 multi-logins
- RAM servers for additional protection
- Unblocks Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
- A little more expensive than other providers
2. Surfshark VPN – Affordable Pick for Russia
Surfshark may be a new kid around the block, but it is no slouch for offering great protective features and overall VPN performance. The fact that it is new actually gives it an edge over older providers.
Aside from being new, Surfshark offers 3,200+ servers which makes it one of the fastest VPNs around. It offers powerful encryption to help you stay totally safe and secure in Russia by just paying $2.49/mo .
It has 2 servers in Moscow and St. Petersburg that will allow you to access local and regional content such as Russia 1, Carousel, Moskva 24, Channel One Russia, and Match TV in your homes outside Russia.
Even Surfshark is on top of the list of VPN multiple devices as it offers unlimited connections against 1 subscription. That means you can stream Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+, CBS, NBC Live on all of your devices including, macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Router, Android TV box, Firestick, PS4, and more.
So, for the best Russia VPN, Surfshark works wonders, especially due to its excellent no-logging policy, which you can learn about in our exclusive Surfshark review.
- 3200+ servers in 65 locations
- Effective 24/7 customer support
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Built-in adblocker, anti-malware, and double VPN feature
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video.
- Confined P2P servers for torrenting
3. NordVPN – Top VPN for Russia with Great Coverage
NordVPN is the most renowned VPN service in the market in terms of server park. With over 5,486 servers located in 59 countries, this VPN offers unmatched exposure to geo-blocked content from around the world.
Despite having a large server network, it doesn’t have servers in Russia. In fact, it has servers in its neighboring countries such as Finland and Ukraine that will easily unblock websites and let you stay private online. You can get NordVPN by paying $3.71/mo .
Although it doesn’t have servers in Russia, that doesn’t mean our Russian friends can not watch unlimited international streaming services such as Netflix, Channel 4, Hulu, Vudu, Spotify, Hotstar, and Sony Liv from their living rooms in Russia.
NordVPN offers an Internet Kill Switch, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, IP Leak protection, No-log policy, and unique features like CyberSec, as far as security and privacy are concerned, which can protect you against malware and annoying advertisements.
- Offers 5,486 servers in 59 countries
- 24/7 customer support
- 6 simultaneous connections
- State-of-the-art security features
- Unblocks Sky TV, HBO, Disney+ and more
- Limited P2P support
- Slow app and server connections
- OpenVPN configuration isn’t user-friendly
4. IPVanish– Best for Streaming in Russia
IPVanish is the best VPN for streaming in Russia because it offers great privacy without cutting short on speed and unblocking capabilities within just $3.49/month.
Since Russian authorities keep metadata on every citizen for a period of six months, you need a VPN with strong security. Speaking of which, IPVanish comes packed with features like an Internet Kill Switch, military-grade encryption, zero logs, and a bunch of other powerful features to help you achieve total anonymity.
Not only that, IPVanish offers 1,600+ servers from the world, which can help access pretty much any geo-restricted websites and services around the world. It doesn’t have servers in Russia, but that’s not something to worry about.
IPVanish has about 900+ servers in the US alone, which means our Russian friends can easily unblock all US exclusive streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock TV, ESPN+, NBC Live, Spotify, and more.
With the help of IPVanish, you can spoof your location and keep your online activity a secret like it should be. Currently, it is offering the lowest pricing plans with great features. Curious to know more about this VPN, check out our review of IPVanish.
- Offers 1,600+ servers in 75+ countries
- 24/7 customer support
- Proprietary “scramble” feature
- Unlimited simultaneous feature
- Unblocks Peacock, ESPN+, NBC, and more
- Limited Payment method support
5. CyberGhost VPN – Top Pick for Online Security in Russia
CyberGhost is a VPN based in Romania, having 6,880 servers with over 91 countries in 113 different locations. If it’s not obvious by now, more servers mean you get to access more international geo-block content such as US Netflix, CBC, NBC Live, BT-Sports, ESPN+, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV US, and many more.
It has 60 servers in Russia alone, even though all of these servers are virtually available. Having said that, you can easily access any Russian TV channels such as TNT, TV3, NTV, 2×2, and VIDigital and stream all you want by paying just $2.25/mo .
It also offers awesome features like 7–simultaneous connections, Internet Kill Switch, and a complete 45-day money-back guarantee on all the premium subscriptions.
- 60 servers in Russia
- No-logs policy
- 7 devices with a single subscription
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Complicated app
- Slow speeds
6. PIA VPN – Best for Torrenting in Russia
PIA VPN offers 33,429 servers at 74 locations worldwide. The service allows you to unblock famous streaming services like US Netflix, HBO, BBC iPlayer, ESPN+, Sony Liv, and others in Russia.
Users in Russia can connect to any server location of their choice to benefit from encrypted communications and stay safe from strict online regulations in the country. You can utilize the large range of offshore servers to access services that are normally inaccessible within Russia.
Although its headquarter is located in the US, which is a part of the 5-eye alliance, PIA takes care of user privacy by refraining from logging any private information and implementing mechanisms such as Internet Kill Switch, Port-Forwarding, Split-Tunneling, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection.
PIA is very inexpensive as you can get the basic subscription for $2.69/mo which comes with the benefit of a 30-day money-back guarantee and 10 simultaneous connections.
For more information about this VPN, check out this PIA VPN review.
- 33,000+ servers
- 10 multi logins
- Supports torrenting on all servers
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Headquarter located in the U.S
- Can only unblock few Netflix Libraries (US, UK, Canada)
How we tested the best VPNs for Russia?
When the realization has dawned on you that your life probably can’t continue without a VPN anymore, keep these pointers in mind when searching for a VPN:
- Overseas VPN servers – The VPN should have a wide number of servers located in countries other than Russia. This will allow you to bypass any geo-restrictions and hide your activities from government agencies.
- Encryption quality – One of the main reasons for using a Russian VPN is the encryption that they add to user traffic traveling through the VPN server in Russia. Modern encryption protocols are highly effective in securing user data.
- Server speed – Even the best in the business can be slow sometimes; we tested the speeds of each VPN provider to ensure that they are capable of offering you the sufficient amount of speed required for streaming, torrenting, browsing, or unblocking restricted sites.
Why should you use a VPN in Russia?
Russian citizens’ internet access is heavily censored and monitored. The government continuously blocks many websites under the pretense of data protection or safeguarding people against objectionable content. In reality, the content is blocked to halt the spread of anti-government sentiments or restrict the ability to communicate privately.
Roskomnadzor – the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media – has also blocked different encrypted messaging services to deny unencrypt and submitted user communications.
Websites like Telegram, ProtonMail, LinkedIn, Twitch, Google Cloud Platform, and DailyMotion have been blocked by Roskomnadzor. It doesn’t stop here, Roskomnadzor requires heavy data retention from its Internet service providers (ISPs), following a great collection of web browsing data from users.
By only using a VPN, you can ensure complete internet freedom and anonymity in Russian Cyberspace. This is why the Russian government is so much against VPNs and bans those services which don’t comply with its censorship laws.
The VPNs on my list have declined to comply with government demands and are still safe to use in Russia.
Free VPNs that work in Russia
While a free VPN may work in Russia, we strongly advise against it. Most free VPN providers are known for tracking, storing, and selling their users’ online activities and data to third-party entities. They could even sell your confidential information and activity logs to the government of Russia.
You’ll also likely be dissatisfied with both the convenience and performance of a free VPN. As these providers are known to offer limited bandwidth on their accounts, you will always be left hanging in the middle of a download or stream.
As these providers usually offer a limited number of server locations and at any given time a large amount of user is connected to them, you will definitely experience slow speed issue more than usual.
That is why I recommend placing your trust in a premium VPN provider that will always have your back and never leave you hanging in the middle of anything.
Having said that, I don’t normally recommend users use a free VPN due to privacy issues. After all, free VPNs are known to sell user data to third parties. That being said, there are still a few free VPNs that you can trust. Here’s a list of VPNs that wouldn’t cost you a dime but are still somewhat trustworthy.
Freedom of speech and Internet Surveillance in Russia
According to the Internet advocacy body Freedom House, the digital landscape of Russia is “not free.” Due to some new judicial amendments known as ‘Yarovaya’s Law,’ the security of encrypted communication has been undermined, and the government access to user data has been increased.
Inspiring or justifying terrorism acts online are punishable by law for up to a 7-year jail term. Also, the Russian administration targets social media users by using vague language in such amendments.
The Yarovaya Law
This law was approved in 2016 by the Russian Parliament to identify further and punish the government defamers.
As per this law, it is a mandatory requirement for all Russian telecom agencies to store user communication records for at least six months and all the metadata for at least three years. This will allow the government to have complete access to the records of everything you do on the internet.
Censoring the Internet
Russia’s dominance over internet censorship has already backfired in the past. In April 2018, in an attempt to block the messaging app Telegram, hundreds of unrelated websites and apps were unintentionally shut down.
The sites and services involved included MasterCard, Twitch, Viber, and popular e-commerce and online banking sites. It took over a month to get these websites back online.
Domesticate the Internet
In the final step of its censorship plan – Russia has dedicated itself to create its own domestic version of the global internet.
In November 2019, the “Sovereign Internet” law came into force. This law allows the Russian government to switch off their access to the global internet network in an “emergency.” Here the term “emergency” is very vague, granting Kremlin free control to determine what event counts as an emergency and what doesn’t.
Alternatively, Russia intends to build and manage its own domestically-controlled internet, which it alleges to have shown achievable in testing. The country even plans to create its own version of Wikipedia by 2023 to provide citizens with more ‘authentic’ information regarding its history.
Details on the project are mostly hidden, but it is clear that this is Russia’s last stand to plug the holes of its so-far failed attack on internet freedom.
How Will the Law be enforced?
The authority responsible for implementing this law in Russia is the Federal Security Service (FSB). The VPNs are required to register with the Roskomnadzor and comply with the new law. Otherwise, they will be blocked from being functional in Russia.
This is terrible news for users in Russia, as this law only bestows more authoritarian control and power to the government against the liberties we all value. Even more alarming is that by 2021, the Russian government may have complete control over the entire Russian Cyberspace.
Due to strict laws governing VPN use in Russia, most VPN providers can’t provide servers in Russia. For instance, according to fortune.com, TorGuard removed one of its servers from Russia due to privacy issues. Similarly, VyprVPN also stated that it couldn’t offer servers in Russia due to strict restrictions. If such circumstances continue to exist, more VPNs might also remove their servers from Russia.
Why VPNs Are Ban in Russia?
The government took this step to ban VPNs in Russia to ensure users do not take advantage of alternative ways to access censored sites and content.
Although censorship is a long-standing element in Russia, it has always been a challenge for the government to prevent users from getting their hands on content supposed to be censored.
As such, Russia has passed this law to ban non-complying VPNs in an attempt to force adherence to its internet censorship laws to a more effective extent.
This is a reprehensible decision aimed at imposing needless restrictions on the freedom of expression of citizens and criticism of the government.
Is VPN legal or banned for use in Russia?
VPNs are illegal and banned for use in Russia. As of today, all of the VPNs in my list can still be easily accessed and used from inside Russian. Although, it is always a good idea to trust a VPN provider that offers obfuscated servers for connection. These servers are specifically designed and used in tough environments such as Russia and China.
How do I get a VPN in Russia?
Getting the best VPN in Russia is not all that complicated. All you’ll need to do is find a VPN that offers servers in Russia and plenty of other servers worldwide. In addition to that, you’ll need to make sure that the VPN service you’re planning on getting keeps no logs.
Which VPN has Russian Servers?
Out of all the VPN providers from my list, only Surfshark and CyberGhost has servers present in Russia. The rest of the providers have servers present in most Russian neighboring countries to access Russian local content from your living rooms outside Russia.
What is the best VPN for Android in Russia?
Without a doubt, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Android users in Russia. With its reliable application, you can perform any form of internet activity securely from your Lollipop OS and all the way to the latest Android 11. It offers a state-of-the-art Android mobile VPN service and support with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read more about it and other top VPNs for Android in our Best VPNs for Android in 2021.
Which VPN works best for iPhones in Russia?
ExpressVPN is also the best VPN for iOS users in Russia. It is the perfect protector for your internet browsing with complete anonymity, best-in-class encryption, and a high-speed globally spread server network. It is easily compatible with iOS OS versions 14, 13, 12, 11, and 10.
Read more about it and other top VPNs for Android in our Best VPNs for iOS in 2021.
The need for a VPN in Russia is getting more pronounced as the government tightens its grip on online censorship and the freedom of its citizens.
Everything you do over the internet, either via social networking websites or visiting other websites, is constantly monitored and controlled.
Despite living in 2021, the only solution to dealing with government oppression and bypassing blocked content in the country is using the best VPN for Russia listed above.