Internet censorship is a big problem for any Russian citizen or tourist. 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 also don’t have full access to news websites and platforms like Netflix or HBO Now. A VPN can help you enjoy content otherwise unavailable in Russia.
ExpressVPN 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.
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, you can do your own research. Skip down to the “What to look for when choosing a VPN for Russia” section, and you’ll find all the information you need there.
1. ExpressVPN: the best all-round
Whenever we recommend VPNs for anything, ExpressVPN usually ranks among the top picks. There are many reasons for that:
- ExpressVPN offers enhanced security features for leak protection.
- It has reliable connection speeds.
- It can bypass streaming sites’ regional restrictions with ease.
- It has kill switch technology, in case your connection gets compromised.
But besides these general points supporting ExpressVPN as a wonderful choice, the service is also an excellent pick if you want to access a free 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, the service they offer is great, with 24/7 support and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the service. 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
2. CyberGhost: a cheaper alternative
Although ExpressVPN is superior in speed and stability, CyberGhost is a great cheap alternative. Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has enhanced security, military grade encryption, a kill switch in case your connection is compromised, and reliable speeds. Considering Russia’s oppressive internet censorship, CyberGhost is a good choice for anyone wishing to reclaim their internet freedom.
It’s also a good tool to access restricted content from streaming sites, so you can watch movies and shows that wouldn’t otherwise be available in Russia. A lot of streaming sites don’t work in Russia, and when they do, they don’t feature all the content available to UK or US users. With a VPN, you can get around that.
CyberGhost also has Russian servers, which makes it easy to mask your activity online without sacrificing your connection speed. Finally, one CyberGhost account works on up to seven devices, and it has a 45-day money-back guarantee. If you want to try it for free, make sure to read this article.
- Very user-friendly
- High quality for a low price
- Torrents and Netflix possible
3. NordVPN: a valuable option
Like CyberGhost and ExpressVPN, NordVPN has dedicated streaming features that let you bypass regional restrictions on online content. NordVPN has extremely reliable and fast connection speeds, as well as thousands of servers in dozens of countries, some close to Russia. This makes it a good choice for Russian citizens and tourists.
The reason NordVPN ended up in third place, is because it doesn’t have the same extent of possibilities as CyberGhost. A NordVPN subscription only allows you to install the software on up to six devices, and it only offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so your options are slightly more limited. This doesn’t make NordVPN any less of a great Russia VPN, however. If you’d like to try NordVPN for free, read this article.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
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. 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 regulation, and blocking access to VPNs. That’s why masking your IP while browsing the internet from Russia is crucial to browse a free internet.
If you want to find out more about Russian censorship, and why using a VPN is important, read our Russian censorship article.
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 find out more about internet censorship around the world, not just in Russia, but also in other countries like China, Iran, and the UK, you can check out our censorship section. Even cheaper VPNs like iTop VPN can help you circumvent such restrictions.
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 ExpressVPN. 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 ExpressVPN 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.