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 in the region.
Considering the current scenario, the only solution for Russians and ex-pats is to rely on the best VPN for Russia to bypass the latest Russian restrictions and take control of their online privacy. The Russian government is pretty stern towards internet freedom and blocks many foreign websites and services like Hulu and Netflix.
However, a VPN can encrypt your traffic and mask your IP address to make you invisible online and help you unblock sites in Russia. Unfortunately, not every VPN works in Russia. After testing 150+ VPNs we bring you the 6 best VPNs for Russia in 2021.
6 Best VPNs For Russia (October 2021 In-Depth Analysis)
We have tested over 150+ VPNs to find the best VPN for Russia in 2021. These top 6 VPNs have been tested on various performance criteria like security, speed, geo-blocking, money-back guarantee, and more. Let’s look at each provider in detail.
1. The Best VPN for Russia – ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Russia offering highly secure 256-bit encryption for data protection, fast speed servers, and a truly no-logs audited policy for privacy. It also offers 3000+ servers across 94 countries, but it does not have servers in Russia. Instead, there are multiple servers available in border countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Belarus.
For those of you wondering, yes ExpressVPN works in Russia. No matter what you use ExpressVPN for, be it torrenting, streaming, or bypassing geo-restricted services it is up to the task. If we talk about streaming and unblocking, ExpressVPN works with Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Voot, Hotstar, ESPN, Disney+, and more. You can also get American Netflix in Russia with ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is also compatible with all major platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, Linux, and router. It supports 5 devices simultaneously, so you can connect multiple devices on a single account.
With ExpressVPN, you get all the basic bells and whistles like a Network Lock (kill switch), military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, private DNS, and zero-log policy for your complete online anonymity. We checked ExpressVPN for IP leaks by connecting to its US – NY server and found no data leaks at all.
If we talk about its unique features, ExpressVPN offers a split tunneling feature, which basically allows you to segregate your secure traffic from your unsecured network traffic. You can select apps and sites that you want to pass through the VPN tunnel and those outside the encrypted tunnel.
In short, this is a VPN that you wouldn’t be disappointed with. It is available for $6.67/mo with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free to test the service first-hand in Russia. For more information, check out our ExpressVPN review.
2. Budget-friendly VPN for Russia – Surfshark
Surfsahrk is the most budget-friendly VPN for Russians costing only $2.49/mo . But, don’t let its affordability fool you because it comes packed with all the advanced security features, excellent unblocking, and 256-bit encryption for data security.
Surfshark offers 3200+ servers across 65 countries, including 1 server in Moscow, Russia. With its local servers, you can access both local and regional content such as Russia 1, Carousel, Moskva 24, Channel One Russia, and Match TV outside Russia. Surfshark also works with international geo-blocked sites like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+, CBS, NBC Live, and more in Russia.
The most highlighting feature of Surfshark is that it supports unlimited devices on a single account, so you can secure as many devices as you want in Russia. Apart from that, Surfshark is also compatible with a wide range of devices like macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV box, Firestick, and can be configured on routers.
If we talk about security, Surfshark offers advanced features like kill switch, CleanWeb (adblocker), MultiHop, WhiteLister (split tunneling), and IP leak protection. We ran IP leak tests by connecting to Surfshark’s Australia – Queensland server and it showed no data leaks whatsoever.
It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it free for 30-days in Russia. Read our Surfshark review for more details.
3. Most Secure VPN for Russia – NordVPN
NordVPN is the most secure VPN for Russia with tight security, 256-bit encryption, and a no-logging policy. Some of its notable features include Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, and Obfuscated servers. Its obfuscated servers help disguise your VPN traffic as normal HTTPS traffic, efficiently bypassing VPN blocks as it prevents your ISP from detecting that you are using a VPN.
NordVPN offers over 5200+ servers located in 60 countries. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have servers in Russia. It does feature servers in its neighboring countries such as Finland and Ukraine that will easily unblock websites and let you stay private online.
With its global servers, you can unblock popular international streaming services such as Netflix, Channel 4, Hulu, Vudu, Spotify, Hotstar, and Sony Liv from Russia with ease. NordVPN supports 6 device connections at the same time, so you can stream on multiple devices simultaneously.
NordVPN offers a kill switch, IP leak protection, no-log policy, and unique features like CyberSec (adblocker) which can protect you against malware and annoying advertisements. To confirm, we conducted IP leak tests on its Irish server and found no leaks during the session.
You can get NordVPN for $3.30/mo (VPN Awareness Month - 2 year plan at 72% off + 3 months FREE) backed with a 30 days money-back guarantee. That’s not all. There are even more features that you can check out in our exclusive review of NordVPN.
4. Fastest VPN for Russia – IPVanish
Next up we have the fastest VPN for Russia, IPVanish. During testing, IPVanish managed to output a fast speed of 90 Mbps on a 100 Mbps base connection. It is more than enough for data-intensive tasks like gaming, torrenting, streaming, etc.
Not only that, IPVanish offers 1900+ servers across 75+ countries, which can help access pretty much any geo-restricted website and service in Russia. It doesn’t have servers in Russia, but that’s not something to worry about.
Another great news for streaming lovers is that IPVanish has about 900+ servers in the US alone, which means you 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 in Russia.
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 256-bit encryption, zero logs, and a bunch of other powerful features to help you achieve total anonymity.
It also offers IP leak protection that we confirmed by running leak tests on its Singapore server. It leaked no data during the session.
With the help of IPVanish, you can spoof your location and keep your online activity private. Another notable thing about this VPN is that it supports unlimited devices on a single account.
5. User-Friendly VPN for Russia – CyberGhost
CyberGhost is the most user-friendly VPN in Russia with easy-to-use apps. It offers apps for all major platforms such as macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Android TV, Firestick, and more. CyberGhost has a very user-friendly design for its VPN apps.
A district feature of CyberGhost is that it offers dedicated servers for streaming, torrenting and gaming, that are marked in the app so you can find the server according to your requirement.
If we talk about servers, CyberGhost has a network of 7000+ servers in over 90 countries. With a global server network, you get to access international geo-block content such as US Netflix, CBC, NBC Live, BT-Sports, ESPN+, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV US, and many more in Russia.
CyberGhost also has 60 servers in Russia alone, even though all of these servers are virtually available. Having said that, you can easily access local Russian TV channels such as TNT, TV3, NTV, 2×2, and VIDigital abroad.
CyberGhost also supports 7–simultaneous connections and is affordable, costing only $2.25/mo . There is also a 45-day money-back guarantee on all its premium subscriptions. Read our CyberGhost review for more details.
6. Best VPN for Torrenting in Russia – PIA
Private Internet Access is the best VPN for torrenting in Russia with advanced security features like SOCKS5 proxy, and a kill switch for safe torrenting. It also offers one of the largest server networks of 35500+ servers, across 78
countries. All these servers are optimized for P2P. Unfortunately, this VPN does not offer servers in Russia, but there are plenty in border countries like Ukraine.
With such a massive global server network, PIA can help you 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 and benefit from encrypted communication and avoid ISP snooping. You can utilize the large range of offshore servers to access services that are normally inaccessible within Russia like LinkedIn, Telegram, and more.
Although it’s headquartered 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.
It also offers security features such as internet kill switch, port-forwarding, split tunneling, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. We ran IP leak tests after connecting to its Victoria – Australia servers and found no leaks.
You can get the basic subscription of PIA for $2.08/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 our PIA VPN review.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Russia with a global server network, fast speeds, security, and excellent unlocking ability. It offers fast connection speeds (88 Mbps on 100 Mbps connection) and allows 5 simultaneous connections. With its 3000+ servers, you’ll be able to unblock any site in Russia with ease.
With advanced security features like Network Lock, RAM servers, and IP leak protection, you will never have to worry about your important data leaking in Russia. It also uses military-grade 256-bit encryption to secure your data against cybercriminals and snoopers.
It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so make sure to give it a try. If you like the service, you can get 3 months free on its 12 monthly offer.
Test Methodology: How we tested the best VPN for Russia
We tested 150+ VPNs to shortlist 6 best VPNs for Russia based on the following criteria:
- Server Network – The VPN should have a wide number of servers located in countries across the world. This will allow you to bypass any geo-restrictions and hide your activities from government agencies.
- Robust Encryption – One of the main reasons for using a Russian VPN is the encryption that they add to user traffic traveling through the VPN server. Secure 256-bit encryption is highly effective in securing user data.
- Security Features: Make sure the VPN you choose offers additional security features like a kill switch, IP and DNS leak protection, and obfuscation to help you browse the internet anonymously in Russia.
- Server speed – Even the best VPNs 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. Make sure the speed drop with the VPN is not more than 30%.
- Money-back guarantee – Make sure the VPN you choose for Russia offers at least a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it risk-free in Russia yourself and see if it fits your needs.
3 Reasons Why You Need a VPN in Russia
Russian cyberspace is not the best in the world, as the country faces internet restrictions, censorship, and surveillance thus leading to an increase in VPN usage among the Russians. On that note, here are 3 major reasons why you need a VPN in Russia:
1. Freedom of speech and Internet Surveillance in Russia
According to the Internet advocacy body Freedom House, the digital landscape of Russia is “not free.” It is ranked at 20/100 which is very low. 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 is 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
The Yarovaya Law was approved in 2016 by the Russian Parliament to identify and punish the government defamers online.
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 has allowed the government to have complete access to the records of everything you do on the internet.
Online Censorship in Russia
Russian internet 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 various encrypted messaging services to deny private communication among its citizens.
Websites like 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.
Fortunately, by using a VPN, you can ensure complete internet freedom and anonymity in Russian Cyberspace. For details, check out our following guides:
Russian Internet Domestication
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. It is also called the “online Iron Curtain” and allows the Russian government to switch off 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.
VPN Ban in Russia
The government took a step to ban VPNs in Russia to ensure users do not take advantage of alternative ways to access censored sites and content. 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.
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.
Russia has passed the law to ban non-complying VPNs in an attempt to force adherence to its internet censorship. However, the 6 VPNs mentioned above work perfectly fine in Russia.
VPNs are perfectly legal in Russia but in 2017, the government passed a law banning the use of VPNs to access blocked content. However, the law does not ban users from using VPNs for online browsing.
So, it is legal to use a VPN in Russia. As of today, all of the VPNs in my list can still be easily accessed and used from inside Russian.
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.
Additionally, these providers are known to offer limited bandwidth and a limited number of servers that are congested with users, thus offering extremely slow speeds. It is not enough for basic web browsing.
That is why we recommend using a trusted premium VPN like ExpressVPN for Russia. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
Out of all the VPN providers from my list, only Surfshark and CyberGhost have servers present in Russia. The rest of the providers have servers present in most Russian neighboring countries like Ukraine.
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. It is compatible with Android Lollipop OS to the latest Android 11. It offers a state-of-the-art VPN app with all the latest features like a kill switch, auto-connect on untrusted Wi-Fi feature, and split tunnelling.
The need for a VPN in Russia is getting more pronounced each passing day as the government tightens its grip on online censorship and the freedom of its citizens. Everything you do over the internet is being constantly monitored and controlled in the country.
The only solution to dealing with government oppression and bypassing blocked content in the country is using the best VPN for Russia listed in this guide. Our top recommendation for Russians is ExpressVPN. It offers best-in-class 256-bit encryption for data protection and an excellent unblocking ability for bypassing censorship.
It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 3 months free subscription on its 12 monthly plan, making it a must-try in Russia.