Internet censorship is a big problem for any Russian citizen or tourist. Especially in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If you don’t use a VPN in Russia, your activity will be monitored, and you might be subject to legal action if you try to exercise your freedoms. Telegram use, for example, is prohibited in Russia.
Russian citizens had already lacked full access to certain Western websites and streaming platforms like Netflix or HBO Now. Since Western companies have been pulling out of Russia at a rapid rate, those living in Russia can expect even less access to the outside world. A VPN can help you unblock content otherwise unavailable in Russia.
Surfshark VPN is the best VPN for Russia thanks to its enhanced security, stable connections, and ability to get around Russian censorship.
In 2020, the Freedom House foundation rated Russia’s internet as “Not Free”. If Russian citizens want to access the internet freely, they have to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) with powerful security features to circumvent Russian censorship and regional content restrictions.
The importance of a VPN in Russia has become even more apparent with increased censorship, including the latest legislation with penalties of up to 15 years in prison for spreading “false information” about the war in Ukraine.
A VPN will hide your IP address, and make it seem like you’re browsing from a different country, which opens up a wide range of possibilities online. However, there are a lot of VPN options on the market, all with their own benefits, so keep reading to see our pick for the best VPN for Russia.
The Best VPN For Russia
We looked at the market and created this list of the best VPNs to use in Russia. Below, you’ll find our top 3 picks, along with the reason why they’re the best to use in Russia. If you’re not a fan of any of these services, make sure to see the “What to look for when choosing a VPN for Russia” section when picking your own.
1. Surfshark: the best overall VPN for Russia
Surfshark has made a name for itself by performing well and exceeding expectations. If you’re looking for an incredibly consistent VPN that doesn’t cost a lot of money, you simply can’t go wrong with Surfshark. Not only is it a great service, but Surfshark also offers dedicated support for users in Russia.
More importantly, Surfshark offers MultiHop, allowing you to connect through two servers at the same time to further anonymize your connection and bypass restrictions in Russia. If you’re looking for all the right features, including AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and lots of server choices, you can’t go wrong with Surfshark.
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
2. CyberGhost VPN: a cost effective option
Our second recommendation for getting past Russian internet censorship is CyberGhost. This easy to install VPN offers users an expansive server network with strong encryption and reliable speeds. The user-friendly setup and security features make it a great option to surf the web privately in Russia.
If you want added protection, CyberGhost offers a premium dedicated IP address that is available by a special token. This means that even CyberGhost itself does not have your IP address. This makes it a great choice for use in Russia, and it’s also one of the best VPNs for Iran.
With several VPN servers close to Russia, you can expect a quick connection that still offers the protection of a premium VPN. Additionally, CyberGhost provides a 45-day money-back guarantee to give users time to try out the service without committing.
- Very user-friendly
- High quality for a low price
- Torrents and Netflix possible
3. ExpressVPN: a reliable option
Whenever we recommend VPNs for anything, ExpressVPN is usually not far from the top. ExpressVPN offers enhanced security features for leak protection and has reliable connection speeds. The service is an excellent pick if you want to access a free and open internet while in Russia. Just like with China’s firewall, ExpressVPN has no problems bypassing Russian internet censorship. If you’re part of a minority in Russia or are generally critical of the government, ExpressVPN’s high-grade encryption and security features will help you browse the internet in a safer and more private way.
On top of that, ExpressVPN has VPN servers in countries near Russia, which makes your protected connection work faster. Not to mention, they have 24/7 support and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The only reason why it ranks lower on this list, is because of its steep price. You can read our piece on how to get a free ExpressVPN trial to try out the software.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
What to Look For When Choosing a VPN For Russia
If you’d rather do your own research into different VPNs, there are several factors you should take into consideration. Due to Russia’s internet censorship efforts, a great VPN for Russia should offer safety and freedom above all. This means it should:
- Have a strict no-logging policy, otherwise, there’s always a risk that your data might be leaked, or be shared with other parties as part of an official inquiry.
- Have servers in Russia or neighboring countries, to ensure fast connection speeds.
- Be able to get around big virtual geographical restrictions such as those in Russia. This will help you enjoy content unavailable in Russia, such as news websites and streaming services.
If you’re looking for the best VPN to use in Russia, it’s also wise to take some other things into account. These include the VPN’s connection speeds, its encryption quality, its extra safety features like a kill switch, and its price.
If you want to learn more about VPNs, how you can use one, or how it helps you get around online restrictions, make sure you check out our VPN explained article.
Can I Use A Free VPN In Russia?
We don’t recommend choosing a free VPN to use in Russia. That’s because free VPNs usually log your data or don’t encrypt it to the same degree as paid VPNs do. This can leave you exposed to government crackdowns on free speech, or any other form of online censorship.
Even if you find a free VPN that doesn’t log your data, you’ll likely run into limitations fairly quickly. Free VPNs tend to have very few servers and server locations that are shared between many users. You can have a look at our article on free VPNs for Kenya as an example. As a result, these VPNs will significantly slow down your internet connection. Since these servers are few and not updated very regularly, there’s a big chance you won’t be able to unblock content, either. That’s because platforms like Netflix and HBO Max will recognize your IP as a VPN server and block your access to their services.
All of that being said, we understand that subscribing to a VPN is not possible for everyone. Moreover, some people don’t mind the limitations of free VPNs. If you want to use a free VPN, make sure you consult our list of the best free VPNs to see which providers are trustworthy and give you the best and most reliable options.
Why Do I Need A VPN in Russia?
Russian internet censorship has been on the rise in the past decade, which makes it increasingly hard for Russian citizens, as well as tourists, to access a free internet. The Russian government takes repressive actions like:
- Silencing political opposition
- Blocking access to communication apps like Telegram
- Systematically discriminating against LGBTQ+ people
- Shielding religious organizations from criticism
They’re able to censor parts of the internet by controlling internet service providers, passing targeted regulations, and blocking access to VPNs. That’s why masking your IP while browsing the internet from Russia is crucial to browse a free internet.
Can I access VPN websites in Russia?
According to our research, the official websites of all three VPNs on our list are accessible from Russia. That being said, this could change at any moment, and even now, there might be differences in accessibility for different Russian IPs.
If you can’t access the VPN website of your choice, you can try using the Opera browser, which has a built-in VPN, or downloading the Tor browser and use that to access a VPN’s official website. Once you’ve reached the official website, you can sign up for an account and use that VPN connection from that moment onwards.
If you’re a tourist about to travel to Russia, we recommend subscribing to a VPN beforehand, just to make sure you don’t run into any problems.
How Do I Install a VPN to Use in Russia?
The process of installing a VPN will differ depending on your chosen VPN and the device you wish to install it on. For example, downloading a VPN on your PC is much easier than installing a VPN on your router.
In most cases, this is what you’ll have to do:
- Head over to your VPN’s website and create an account. Most VPN providers have a sign-up button displayed on the homepage.
- Download the VPN software from their website. In most cases, after you subscribe to the VPN service, you’ll be redirected to a download page for the software.
- Install the VPN software. It shouldn’t take too long, and it’ll be a simple installation wizard.
- Log in to the VPN software. Use the credentials you used to sign-up on their website.
- Choose your desired VPN server. In most cases, you’ll have a list of server locations. You can browse through them and pick a server location suitable for your needs. For example, if you want to access Russian services anonymously, a server in Russia or nearby countries might be the best choice to maintain a fast connection. If you want to stream content, a server in the US or UK is be a better choice as it will help you unblock content.
- Turn on the VPN. All the VPNs featured in our article have a big “Connect button” right above the server list. After you choose a server, you can click it and it will automatically change your IP.
Choosing the best VPN for Russia can help you circumvent government censorship and enjoy more freedom on the internet. Whether you live in Russia or plan to travel there, we strongly recommend you use a VPN from this list to protect your privacy.
If you want to read more about unblocking online content, specifically when it comes to streaming services, have a look at our streaming section.
If our article didn’t answer all of your questions, you can read our response to the most frequently asked questions about the best VPN for Russia down below.
The best VPN to use in Russia, whether as a citizen or as a tourist, is Surfshark. It has fast connection speeds, very secure connections, and comes with some extra perks as well. For example, it can help you stream regionally blocked content from platforms like Netflix. It also has a kill switch, in case your connection gets compromised.
But Surfshark isn’t the only good VPN for Russia. If you want to find out what your other options are, read our full article.
We don’t recommend using free VPNs in Russia. Most of the time, they’ll log your data or offer unstable connections. They’re also not the best tools for unblocking regionally restricted content, especially when you’re in Russia.
However, if you must use a free VPN, we recommend ProtonVPN Free. It has very few servers, but it doesn’t log your data, and it’s completely free to use. If you want to see more options, read our article on the top 5 free VPNs.
People use a VPN in Russia for a few reasons. First, a VPN helps you hide your identity online, protecting you from government crackdowns on free speech. Second, a VPN can help you unblock regionally restricted content from news websites and even streaming platforms like Netflix.