Best VPN Russia

Russia’s internet has long been sliding towards authoritarianism and complete muzzling of free speech. The country’s invasion of Ukraine has only accelerated things, with dozens of international news sources, chat apps, and social media services now inaccessible in Russia. The deteriorating nature of online freedoms has made it more important than ever to protect yourself online by using one of the best VPNs for Russia.

Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the traffic flowing to and from your device and routes it via an intermediary server of your choice. It hides your location from nosy surveillance agencies and hackers and makes it very difficult for intrusive elements to pry into your online behavior. VPNs can also be used by bloggers, social media activists, and others to continue to post online anonymously with a reduced fear of getting caught. At the same time, a VPN lets you regain access to your usual streaming services and home sites while you travel.

In this article, we’ll list the best VPNs for Russia, explain how to use them, and answer some common questions about Russia’s internet status and VPNs. We’ll go into more detail about each of the VPNs below, but if you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s a quick summary of our top picks.

Best VPNs for Russia

  1. NordVPN Best all-around VPN for Russia. Huge network of blazing-fast servers able to circumvent most restricted and geo-blocked sites. Best-in-class privacy and security features. 30-day money-back guarantee.
    TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for Russia.
  2. Surfshark Best budget provider. Boasts powerful security and privacy protections. Servers in 100+ countries. Has no connection limits.
  3. ExpressVPN Large network of servers in countries close to Russia, good speeds, and works with all popular streaming services. Solid security and privacy.
  4. CyberGhost Beginner-friendly VPN and one of the few still with servers in Russia capable of gaining a Russian IP address. Strong security and privacy
  5. IPVanish Preferred by Kodi and Fire TV Stick users for easy remote integration with app. Good speeds and great security features.
  6. Private Internet Access Fast and reliable provider with customisable security and a huge network of servers, many located in countries close to Russia. Allows unlimited devices.
  7. PureVPN Servers in 65+ countries, including Russia. Works to access Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and others as well as social media platforms.
  8. ProtonVPN Highly trusted VPN packed with advanced features. Servers in 85+ countries, including Russia. Works with Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and Facebook in Russia.
  9. Hotspot Shield Good choice for popular streaming sites. Offers fast speeds and servers in Russia.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?

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There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

How we selected the top VPNs for Russia

There are a huge number of VPNs on the market, but they do not all provide the same level of service. When you’re dealing with a country with strict internet censorship, such as Russia, you need to make sure you’re using a quality provider. So, we put together our list of the best VPNs for Russia based on the following factors:

  • Speed and stability of service
  • A large network of servers across the world, preferably with some in or close to Russia
  • Ability to access popular streaming services, including Netflix
  • Strong encryption parameters to maintain privacy and anonymity
  • Ease of use
  • Unlocks geo-restricted content without any problems
  • Suitable for torrenting
  • Apps for Android and iOS

This is just an overview, but you can learn more about how we test and rank the VPNs we recommend in the methodology section below.

Update: Russia recently demanded VPN providers link their servers in the country to the state censorship agency. Many popular providers refused to comply with this and removed their servers from Russia. You can still use these providers while in Russia to connect to a server outside of the country, but to find providers with servers in the country, check out our posts on how to get a Russian IP address and the best VPNs with Russian servers.

Best VPNs for Russia: at a glance

We’ve compared the most important features of the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for Russia.

No valueNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNCyberGhostIPVanishPrivate Internet AccessPureVPNProton VPNHotspot Shield
WebsiteNordVPN.comSurfshark.comExpressVPN.comCyberghost.comIPVanish.comPrivateInternetAccess.comPureVPN.comprotonvpn.comHotspotshield.com
Ranking for Russia:123456789
Total number of servers6,000+3,200Undisclosed11,000+2,200+Undisclosed6,500+3,8001,800
Activity logs No identifying dataNo identifying data Anonymized data
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps400 Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps
Simultaneous Connections10Unlimited87UnlimitedUnlimited10Free: 1, VPN Plus: 10Up to 10
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE
$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 2 months free!
$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months
$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
$2.11
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months
$3.59
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan
$2.99
SAVE 77% ON THE 3 YEAR PLAN

The best VPNs for Russia

At Comparitech, we pride ourselves on bringing you the most helpful and accurate information possible. To do this, we use every VPN personally, subjected them to rigorous real world testing, and produced the following reviews based on those first-hand experiences.

Here’s our list of the best VPNs to keep you safe online while in Russia:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Jun 2024 Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our top choice for a Russia VPN. This is a mature VPN provider, having been in the business for over a decade. There are a bunch of powerful features packed into an intuitive app, including obfuscated servers designed to beat government censorship.

Both speeds and privacy were excellent during our extensive testing of the product. It abides by a rigorous no-logs policy, which means it retains absolutely no information about user sessions, traffic, or timestamps. This policy has served to be a boon for people who value privacy. There have been at least two instances where NordVPN was approached by government agencies demanding that the company fork over user data. But there simply wasn’t any incriminatory information on its servers. Authorities even confiscated physical servers once but couldn’t glean any information from them. Furthermore, the company is incorporated in Panama, which means it’s not subjected to any mandatory data retention laws.

NordVPN operates one of the larger server networks we’ve seen, with over 6,000 servers in 60+ countries, including several of Russia’s neighboring countries. The service works with many online streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It allows torrenting. It’s one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, so you can stream and make video calls in high quality without buffering.

Encryption standards are tight. All traffic is secured via the 256-bit AES protocol by default and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. Your privacy and anonymity are pretty much assured.

There’s support for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. You can install it on select routers via manual configuration.

NordVPN speed test data

No valueNordVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)354 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)262 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)284 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE

Pros:

  • Extremely fast and reliable servers for HD streaming
  • Operates over 6,000 servers in 60+ countries around the globe
  • Excellent streaming potential
  • Strong encryption and no logs make for top security and privacy
  • Automatic Wi-Fi protection for on-the-go security
  • Live chat can assist you with manual configurations

Cons:

  • Desktop app is a bit dated

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR RUSSIA:NordVPN is our top choice. It boasts incredible speeds, offers solid security and privacy, and works reliably in Russia. Use up to 6 devices at once with great connection speeds. It’s risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Here’s our in-depth review of NordVPN.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a budget-friendly provider that doesn’t compromise on service. It has a network of more than 3,200 servers. This no longer includes Russian VPN servers since Surfshark removed them from the country following the invasion of Ukraine. However, you will find servers in neighboring countries and 100+ others worldwide.

Surfshark is fast enough for most purposes and has exceptional unblocking ability, so you shouldn’t have any issues when torrenting or trying to safely browse the internet. Better still, this service doesn’t limit the number of devices you can connect simultaneously, so it’s perfect for families or anyone looking to secure their whole household.

As if that wasn’t enough, Surfshark also comes packed with security features. These include a kill switch, protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks, automatic ad-blocking and malware scanning, and 256-bit encryption. A NoBorders feature is also present, which allows you to bypass strict country-wide blocking. Surfshark doesn’t log any personally identifiable info, but you can pay in cryptocurrency for additional privacy. You can reach customer support over live chat or email 24/7.

Surfshark offers apps for macOS, Android, Windows, iOS, and Linux. It also works with select wireless routers, although you’ll have to configure it manually.

Surfshark speed test data

No valueSurfshark
WebsiteSurfshark.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)521 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)702 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)561 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Connect as many devices as you like
  • Fast enough for HD live-streaming
  • Wide range of security features and a no-logs policy
  • Accepts three kinds of cryptocurrency
  • 24/7 Live chat available

Cons:

  • Certain features require Surfshark One, which costs extra

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET OPTION:Surfshark is ideal for anyone looking to browse safely in Russia. It’s security-conscious, capable of securely accessing plenty of services, and has no connection limit. What’s more, this VPN keeps no logs and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Surfshark here.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN offers a large network of over 3,000 servers spread across 100+ countries, including plenty of Russia-adjacent locations. Foreign expatriates living in Russia and local citizens traveling abroad shouldn’t face any problems in acquiring a speedy and stable connection. Subscribers also have an option of connecting to a ‘smart location’, which will select the best server for them based on their current location.

ExpressVPN has a proven history of working reliably in tricky countries such as Russia and China. Encryption protocols are uncompromising. ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES-CBC with the utilization of both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. An internet kill switch is included with all packages. The company refers to this as a ‘network lock’ – with the feature temporarily halting all web traffic if the connection drops. ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any logs that could identify users.

ExpressVPN works well with platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Further, it supports torrents on all servers.

There are apps for Android and iOS. It’s also possible to use a desktop client for Linux, Windows, and macOS. The VPN can be configured will some routers.

ExpressVPN speed test data

No valueExpressVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)319 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)303 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)278 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Fast server network is great for streaming and downloading
  • Operates over 3,000 servers in 100+ countries
  • User location remains hidden with high-grade encryption
  • Works with all manner of streaming services
  • Gets around torrent tracker site blocks without compromising privacy

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than some other options, use a discounting coupon below
  • Lack of advanced configuration options

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SECURE VPN:ExpressVPN is a strong choice. Optimized for high-speed connections. Works well with Netflix and other streaming sites. Great on privacy and security. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is one of the few VPNs left with Russian VPN servers. The provider has a vast server network of over 10,000 in 100+ countries worldwide. Almost 60 of these are virtually located in Russia, which means they can give you a Russian IP address without CyberGhost having to comply with Russia’s data retention laws.

The company has an internal policy of not storing any user logs or data. It’s also headquartered in Romania – so it’s not forced by law to store data in the first place. Encryption standards are firm. The company avails 256-bit encryption on the WireGuard protocol by default, alongside automatic tracker blocking and leak protection. There’s also an internet kill switch included.

Apps are available for both Android and iOS, as well as desktop support for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Torrents are allowed on all servers except those in the USA, Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong.

CyberGhost speed test data

No valueCyberGhost
WebsiteCyberghost.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)449 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)269 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)167 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 2 months free!

Pros:

  • Streams HD video seamlessly
  • Keeps no user activity logs and provides strong encryption to bypass activity detection
  • Some of the fastest streaming servers we’ve tested
  • Operates over 10,000 servers around the globe, with 60+ virtual Russian servers
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in China
  • Better suited to beginners than power users

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

RUSSIAN VPN SERVERS:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Works well in Russia. Good option if you are looking for a fast, reliable connection and an easy-to-use interface. 45-day money-back guarantee.

Here’s our full review of CyberGhost.

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5. IPVanish

IPVanish Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish emphasizes speed, security, and privacy. It’s a recommended option for users looking to download torrents and maintain the highest privacy settings. Our user review gave the service an impressive 8/10 rating, and it’s easy to see why.

Users in Russia will be happy to know that IPVanish declines to store any user information. All details like session history, choice of servers, and bandwidth will be hidden.

Encryption parameters are unflinching. IPVanish leverages 256-bit encryption on the WireGuard protocol by default, with perfect forward secrecy. The latter feature means that even if hackers break into your account, which is a far-fetched scenario to begin with, it’ll still be impossible for them to decrypt past session data. An internet kill switch is included with all packages, ensuring you never accidentally browse the web unprotected.

The service offers over 2,000 servers spread across around 60 countries. At the moment, there isn’t an option for Russia, but there are plentiful servers in former Soviet republics such as Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, and Bulgaria.

IPVanish doesn’t work reliably with some streaming services, but it does permit torrenting on all servers. Many users find it an excellent option for Kodi because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse. There are apps for both iOS and Android, as well as a desktop client for Windows and macOS.

IPVanish speed test data

No valueIPVanish
WebsiteIPVanish.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)277 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)237 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)352 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$1.99
SAVE 85% on the 2 yr plan + 3 FREE months

Pros:

  • Completely logless service won’t compromise your privacy
  • Impressive 4K streaming speeds achieved during testing
  • Decent streaming ability
  • Works well with remote control devices like Kodi

Cons:

  • Customer support is a little slow
  • Based in the US

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS:IPVanish works with any number of devices simultaneously. Fast connections, lightweight, easy-to-use apps, and good multi-platform support. Reliable in Russia. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our review of IPVanish.

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6. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access is a popular VPN that has long been a favorite with users who are focused on security and privacy. The VPN is fast thanks to its WireGuard implementation, and it has servers in over 80 countries, including several neighboring Russia: Ukraine, Finland, and Alaska. In fact, PIA has over 10,000 servers which eclipse any other provider on this list and effectively removes congestion issues.

The VPN might be based in the US, but it has a no-logs policy that has been proven in court on numerous occasions. it routes your internet traffic through a 256-bit AES-encrypted tunnel. You’ll also benefit from features including a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and PIA’s very strict no-logs policy. Private Internet Access allows unlimited simultaneous connections. The apps are user-friendly, and you have 24/7 live chat and email support should you need it.

Apps are available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, or Amazon Fire TV. Note that Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available, although use with routers requires manual setup.

Private Internet Access speed test data

No valuePrivate Internet Access
WebsitePrivateInternetAccess.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)93 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)58 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)200 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan

Pros:

  • Vast server network in 80+ countries, including several neighbouring Russia
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Based in the US
  • Struggles with some streaming platforms

Our score:

4 out of 5

VAST SERVER NETWORK:Private Internet Access has a wide range of servers in locations close to Russia. Strong security and a proven no-logs policy. Apps for all platforms and browser extensions. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Private Internet Access.

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7. PureVPN

PureVPN works in russiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PureVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 31 DAYS

PureVPN has a 31-day money-back guarantee and an allowance of 10 devices which means you can try it on all of your devices risk-free. Best of all, the VPN is super fast, so it works for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and making private video calls.

The VPN has servers in over 65 countries, including Russia, which means you can use it to access region-locked streaming services like Okko and ivi while outside of Russia. It also works to bypass blocks on social media sites like Facebook and to access any news content blocked by the Russian government.

A key feature of PureVPN is its high speeds, which allows anybody traveling to or living in Russia to watch Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, or any other popular international streaming services. In our tests, it had download speeds of around 400 Mbps, which makes it superb for gaming, HD streaming, and torrenting. Just bear in mind that while port forwarding is available, it costs extra.

In terms of security, PureVPN offers robust AES encryption, a strict no-logging policy, a kill switch, DNS leak prevention, and obfuscation features. These features will stop your ISP, local networks, and government agencies from monitoring you online. It also means you can bypass blocks at work to stream or use VK without being tracked.

Live chat support could be faster, but considering the cost, it is impressive that it has a live chat at all. Overall a hugely impressive and low-cost option.

PureVPN speed test data

No valuePureVPN
WebsitePureVPN.com
Avg Speed (US)628 Mbps
Avg Speed (UK)324 Mbps
Avg Speed (Asia)246 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.11
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months

Pros:

  • Fast WireGuard protocol is ideal for streaming
  • Independently audited no-logging policy
  • Servers in 65+ countries, including Russia

Cons:

  • Customer support is slow
  • Port forwarding costs extra

 

Our score:

4 out of 5

CHEAP VPN FOR RUSSIA:PureVPN starts at just $1.96 per month. It is fast, has servers in 65+ countries, including Russia, and has all the privacy features you need to prevent ISPs and government agencies in Russia from tracking you. Works to access international platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube. Also works to use Facebook Twitter, and Instagram. 31-day money-back guarantee.

Find out more in our PureVPN review.

PureVPN Coupon
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8. ProtonVPN

Proton VPN works in russiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.protonvpn.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ProtonVPN is an impressive option for Russians looking for a highly reputable and reliable VPN. It’s based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, and it has a rock-solid no-logging policy that has been audited, along with full audits of its apps and network.

The VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android that include obfuscation, multi-hop connections, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. These features make ProtonVPN a superb option for visitors to Russia or Russian citizens concerned about government surveillance and internet freedom.

ProtonVPN’s robust 256-bit AES encryption is ideal for securely accessing news, web services, social media sites, or any other website blocked by the Kremlin. It even has servers in Moscow, so you can access Russian streams from abroad.

Servers in 85 other countries give you global access, and our tests revealed that it works seamlessly to stream Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max, CNN, ESPN, BBC iPlayer, and many other platforms that are usually unavailable in Russia.

If you want to torrent in Russia, you can protect yourself against hackers and download without issues using ProtonVPN’s split tunneling and port forwarding features. The only drawback is that ProtonVPN is a touch expensive, so unless you need all its advanced features, you may prefer one of our other recommendations.

That said, Proton is fast, it connects quicker than just about any other VPN we have ever tested, and it has more advanced features than just about any other VPN. You can test it using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

ProtonVPN speed test data

No valueProton VPN
Websiteprotonvpn.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)390 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)306 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)295 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.59
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan

Pros:

  • Fast servers for HD streaming and torrenting
  • Robust encryption and strict no-logs policy
  • Packed with advanced features

Cons:

  • A bit pricier than our other picks
  • Might be harder for beginners to learn

Our score:

4 out of 5

FULLY FEATURED:ProtonVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux that come packed with advanced features. It is a highly trusted VPN based in Switzerland, a country with strong privacy laws. Servers are available in over 85+ countries, including Russia. Works to watch Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and access Facebook in Russia. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Find out more in our ProtonVPN review.

ProtonVPN Coupon
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan
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7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield Works in RussiaTested Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.

Hotspot Shield has faced criticism in the past for its logging policy, but it has come a long way. It now only logs encrypted IP addresses during a VPN session but deletes them immediately afterward, so they can never be viewed by third parties. This provider offers excellent security features, including strong encryption, leak protection, a desktop kill switch, and automatic Wi-Fi protection (in the mobile apps). The best thing about this provider is its superior speeds, which make it a great choice for downloading large files.

Hotspot Shield uses shared IP addresses and imposes no bandwidth limit. It can securely access plenty of popular streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. With a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, you can always test the service out to see if it’s a good fit. Servers are located in 80+ locations, including Russia and neighboring countries.

Apps are available for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.

Pros:

  • Large network of server locations, including Russia
  • Very fast speeds for streaming HD content
  • Strong encryption and other security features

Cons:

  • Had past privacy issues
  • Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

FAST SPEEDS: Hotspot Shield is ideal for streaming. Its fast speeds and excellent unblocking abilities make it a great option for browsing safely in Russia. It even comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of Hotspot Shield.

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Finding the best VPNs for Russia: our methodology

Finding a reliable Russia VPN can result in a headache. There are many VPNs available on the market, but they do not all have Russian VPN servers – or the privacy features you require to use a VPN without concerns about getting in trouble with the law. 

To find VPNs that are highly effective and have solid privacy and security features, we use a carefully constructed scientific method. Below, we have included some of the most important features we looked for when testing VPNs for Russia:

  • Reliable servers: To access restricted content in Russia and use the internet with privacy and added freedom, you will require a VPN with plenty of servers around the globe. In this guide, we pinpointed services with fast servers capable of HD streaming and torrenting. We looked for servers in Russia to let you use local services from abroad and servers elsewhere for ultimate flexibility.
  • Apps for all platforms: A useful Russian VPN must-have apps for all popular devices. This ensures that the VPN is versatile and can be used to gain privacy and online accessibility, whether at home, at work, or when using public Wi-Fi. In this guide, we have recommended VPNs with apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. We also recommended VPNs that let you use the VPN on multiple devices simultaneously.
  • DNS leak protection. We tested each VPN to check that it does not suffer from IP or DNS leaks. We also checked for dedicated IPv4 and IPv6 leak protection to ensure that your browsing requests will always be safely proxied to prevent your ISP or the government from snooping on you.
  • Military-grade encryption. The tunnel that is established between your device and the VPN server must be highly secure to stop it from being penetrated by eavesdroppers such as government snoops. In this guide, we have recommended top-tier services that provide secure VPN protocols with strong AES-256 encryption.
  • Outstanding accessibility. Not all VPNs have servers that work to access popular international services. We tested our VPNs for Russia to ensure that they can access multiple Netflix regions, iPlayer, Hulu, and apps and content that the government has censored, including apps like Telegram.
  • Live chat support. In this guide, we have recommended VPNs that provide plenty of useful guides and FAQs on their website. Our recommendations also provide email and live chat support to let you get help with setting up and using the VPN. 
  • Value for money. Staying safe online shouldn’t have to cost a fortune. We thoroughly test these VPN to ensure that they offer a service well worth the price they charge. We especially like VPNs that offer free trials or money-back guarantees so that you can testthe service risk free. We also provide links to our discount coupons so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible deal.

Want to know more about how we test and rank the VPNs we recommend? Check out our detailed article on our VPN testing methodology.

How to use a VPN in Russia

In this section, we’ll take you through exactly how to set up your VPN. Follow the steps outlined here, and you’ll be browsing safely in no time.

Here’s how to use a VPN in Russia:

  1. Browse through our recommended list of VPN services and decide on a plan that works for you. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Register and pay for the service
  3. Once that’s done, download the companion apps (for your phone) or software (for PC or macOS)
  4. Clear your cookies and cache in all web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, UCWeb) to remove old location identifiers
  5. Restart your device
  6. Open the VPN companion software and log in
  7. Select a server in the location of your choice. For example, in the US to gain a US IP address or in Russia to gain a Russian IP.
  8. Allow a few seconds for the connection to be established. Once that’s done, there should be a green notification icon in the taskbar or on the top of your smartphone screen
  9. Browse the web like you normally would. You’ll notice that host websites will assume your location is in the country you’re currently connected to, and a bunch of previously unavailable content will now be accessible

The future of internet freedom in Russia

Internet advocacy body Freedom House says the digital landscape of Russia is “not free”, pointing to a series of new legislative amendments known as ‘Yarovaya’s Law’ which undermines the security of encrypted communications and increases government access to user data.

“Inciting” or “justifying” terrorism online is now punishable with a maximum sentence of a 7-year jail term, with the Russian administration using vague and broad language in the bill to target social media users.

The monitoring agency puts the finger of blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that the clampdown on online freedom is a direct attempt to consolidate his authority. Content critical of the government’s actions in Crimea and involvement in the Ukrainian conflict is constantly filtered, with independent news outlets facing legal and economic pressures from the Kremlin.

If the last few years are any yardstick, it’s unlikely that the Russian internet landscape will be headed for a greater degree of freedom anytime soon. Authorities have continued to use new legislation to restrict access to content related to radical Islam, conflict with Ukraine, or any form of organized political opposition.

Human Rights Watch explains that Russian intervention on the web has been a major policy of the state since 2012 after state authorities realized the need to prevent the kind of mass uprising witnessed during 2011-12. Previously the internet had been viewed as some sort of benign space without the effect to mold public opinion, and ministries had largely focused their efforts on curtailing content on television, print, and radio.

The internet is now viewed as the only medium where there was a significant degree of opposition to the ruling party’s policies and one that needs to be brought under control. The situation now is so bad that ordinary Russian citizens are unaware of what constitutes free speech and what doesn’t. Arbitrary definitions of laws are used to silence the truth while state-run media outlets continue to spew out biased reporting, particularly when it comes to regional conflicts.

See also: Russia cyber profile

Using a VPN in Russia: FAQs

Should I use a free VPN for Russia?

Of course, it’s tempting to try and find a free VPN for Russia. They are a dime a dozen and will pop up in your search results because they’re heavily advertised. But they are rarely secure, and if you’re looking for a premium browsing experience, don’t pin your hopes on them.

Free VPNs have a habit of monetizing by blitzing you with invasive advertisements, inserting tracking cookies, and selling your data to advertisers. Some have also hijacked your bandwidth in order to turn you into a foot soldier in a massive botnet army.

Expect bandwidth throttling, data caps, and a severely limited selection of servers. And the chances of finding free VPNs with Russian servers are almost non-existent.

Instead, we recommend making use of the VPNs listed in the article that offer a free trial or a money-back guarantee. That’s a suitable option if you’re not sure whether to opt for a VPN completely. But we strongly advise that you avoid the random ones that exist on the internet. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and when it comes to a Russia VPN, you can’t be too careful.

How do I blog anonymously in Russia?

We’ve mentioned before how the Kremlin is trying to silence bloggers with the threat of incarceration and violent physical assaults. That’s a scary thought. But if you’re an activist or a journalist, we understand how important it is to get your message out. After all, media is the fourth pillar of the state, and free speech is necessary for democracies to flourish.

There’s a sufficient amount of detail and best practices in our guide on how to stay hidden while blogging on the internet. Try to follow the steps we’ve outlined in detail. There’s no guarantee of your privacy remaining hidden forever, but we do believe you can guard yourself to a sufficient degree if you take adequate steps to minimize your digital footprint.

Are VPNs legal in Russia?

Although VPNs are not technically illegal in Russia, those that Russian consumers can use must be state-approved and licensed by the government. VPNs that are not state-approved are subject to blocks in the country, and a number of services are under investigation by the Kremlin for allegedly facilitating criminal activities harmful to national security

Disclaimer: Although we’ve spent hours researching this topic, we are not legal experts. As such, nothing we’ve said above should be taken as legal advice. We encourage you to consult local laws or perhaps even seek a professional’s opinion before attempting to use a foreign VPN in Russia.

What sites and apps have been blocked in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine?

Since the start of the Ukraine invasion, Russia has doubled down on internet censorship. Russia officially made negative discussion of the war illegal and has detained those who speak out against it.

Some of the recently blocked apps and websites include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • BBC News
  • Deutsche Welle
  • Amnesty International
  • Radio Free Liberty
  • Voice of America
  • Bellingcat
  • Euronews
  • Most Ukrainian news sites
  • Several foreign currency and cryptocurrency exchanges

In total, more than 500 domains were added to Russia’s registry of blocked sites since the start of the war with Ukraine. You can access any of them in private using one of the VPNs recommended above.

Are there any VPNs with Russian servers?

The Russian government now has the right to inspect a VPN’s servers, which could lead to personally identifiable data being recovered. To prevent this, several major services, including NordVPN and Surfshark, shut down all of their Russian servers.

There are still a handful of VPNs with Russian servers, such as VyprVPN and Hotspot Shield. These are theoretically safe so long as the servers are RAM-based (in other words, they’re wiped clean whenever they’re rebooted) and as long as they don’t log any data that could lead back to you.

Some VPNs (such as CyberGhost) remove all risk by simply offering virtual servers — these can get you a Russian IP address without actually being in the country itself. This is the safest option, and CyberGhost tops our list of the best VPNs with Russian servers.