RTR (also known as Russia.tv), like most major streaming platforms, is geographically restricted. Anyone attempting to use it from outside of Russia will be greeted by the following error: “Просмотр видео ограничен в вашем регионе”, which roughly translates to “Video viewing is limited in your area”. This isn’t the end of the road, however, as regional blocking is far easier to bypass than you might think.
This service finds out which country you’re in by examining your IP address. If you change this (for instance, by connecting to a VPN), you’ll appear to be somewhere different, and will be able to access geo-blocked content from that location. In other words, you can access Russian TV when traveling abroad by connecting to a Russian VPN server back home. As a bonus, your VPN will encrypt your traffic, enhancing your privacy and preventing anyone from seeing what you get up to online.
How to stream RTR from anywhere using a VPN
Don’t worry if you’ve never used a VPN before; we’re about to explain how you can get set up and start watching RTR in under five minutes.
Here’s how to watch RTR online from anywhere:
- First, choose a suitable VPN provider from the list below (we recommend Surfshark).
- Next, install the VPN app on any device you regularly use for streaming. You can expect a limit of around five connections at once, but this varies from one VPN to another.
- When you’re ready, log in and connect to any of the available Russian servers. This will get you a Russian IP address and help you bypass RTR’s regional restrictions.
- Last but not least, play a video on RTR. In most cases, it should play without any issues. If not, clear your cookies and cache before reloading the page. If you’re still having problems after this step, contact your VPN’s support team for more advice.
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There are no hidden terms—just contact support within 30 days if you decide Surfshark isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your Surfshark trial here.
When you’re trying to decide on your first VPN, it’s easy to get distracted and miss the forest for the trees. Instead of fixating on which provider is fastest, the most secure, or otherwise “best”, we’d advise you to consider well-balanced services instead. These guarantee that you’ll be able to handle most day-to-day tasks reasonably well, instead of only being suitable for one thing. To ensure you get a reliable, versatile VPN, we only recommended those meeting these criteria:
- Works flawlessly with RTR and other popular streaming services
- Offers high enough speeds for watching live TV
- Prioritizes your security and uses effectively uncrackable encryption
- Doesn’t keep any logs that could identify you (or ideally, no logs at all)
- Provides apps for all major operating systems and devices
If you’re in a rush, take a look below for our two-minute guide to the best VPNs for RTR. Alternatively, keep reading; we’ll go into more depth on each of our picks shortly.
Best VPNs for live streaming RTR:
- Surfshark: Our top VPN for RTR. Boasts some of the fastest speeds around and happily unblocks a huge range of services abroad. Also offers powerful security features, a no-logs policy, and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- CyberGhost: The best budget provider for RTR. Beginner-friendly apps provide comprehensive security and servers designed for accessing geo-blocked platforms.
- PrivateVPN: This provider has excellent streaming potential thanks to its high speeds and better-than-average unblocking ability. Works perfectly with RTR and keeps no logs whatsoever.
- Hotspot Shield: A great general-purpose VPN. Fast enough to stream Russian TV without interruption. Offers a solid set of security features, plus access to servers in 80+ countries.
- VyprVPN: A zero-logs VPN that puts digital privacy first. Also has impressive unblocking ability, making it ideal for bypassing censorship and watching RTR outside of Russia.
The best VPNs for RTR
Below, you’ll find more detailed reviews of the best VPNs for Russia.tv:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is our top choice. To begin with, it scored very highly in our latest speed tests, meaning it’s well-suited to torrenting and live streaming. On that note, this VPN has servers in 65 countries, and unblocks services like RTR and Netflix (30+ libraries as of the most recent update) with no issues at all. What’s more, it doesn’t limit the number of devices you can connect at the same time, making it perfect for sharing with family.
You’ll be able to browse the web privately thanks to Surfshark’s kill switch, protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks, and 256-bit encryption. This VPN also offers a NoBorders mode specifically designed for getting around country-wide internet blocking in places like Russia or China. Surfshark doesn’t keep any logs, making it impossible to say who accessed what. If you run into trouble, support staff are on-hand 24/7 via live chat.
Surfshark users can install apps for Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS, and Windows. In fact, thanks to this service’s recently-added M1 chip support, it offers improved performance and lower battery usage on Macs. Manual installation is needed for use with supported routers.
- Ranked #1 in our latest speed tests
- Works with Match TV, Netflix, and more
- Very strong security offering
- No connection limit
- Doesn’t keep any logs at all
- NoBorders mode isn’t available on Android or iOS
BEST VPN FOR RTR:Surfshark is our first choice for Russia.tv. It’s a speedy, secure VPN with no connection limit and a true no-logs policy. Still not convinced? Why not try it for yourself using the risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee?
For more info, check out our complete Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is a budget-friendly provider that offers similar (or, in some cases, better) performance to its more expensive rivals. Users can choose from over 7,000 high-speed servers in 90+ countries (including Russia), and there are even some expressly designed to unblock popular streaming platforms from abroad. Up to seven devices can be connected at the same time, giving you the freedom to watch Russia.tv wherever you go.
This service safeguards your connection with 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch that can’t be turned off. There’s also a feature that blocks trackers, ads, and malware automatically, but CyberGhost isn’t content to stop there; it recently launched its own password manager and privacy guard app for Windows PCs. This VPN doesn’t keep any logs that could be traced back to you. Customer support is available 24/7 via email and live chat.
CyberGhost apps are available for a wide range of platforms including MacOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. This VPN can also be manually configured for use on select wireless routers.
- Dozens of speedy Russian servers
- Makes it easy to use geo-blocked platforms from abroad
- No need to configure security tools
- User-friendly apps with 24/7 support
- Lack of advanced features may frustrate experienced users
BEST BUDGET VPN:CyberGhost offers speed, security, and streaming-optimized servers at a very attractive price point. Not only that, it’s extremely welcoming to novice users and has the largest network of any VPN in this list. All plans include a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Check out the full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has just increased its network size by about 33% (up to around 200 servers in 63 countries), giving users more ways to access platforms like RTR, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer while abroad. Further, because this VPN is known for its high speeds and P2P-friendliness, it’s a fantastic option for day-to-day use. Six simultaneous connections are permitted per account.
The apps include numerous security features, including a kill switch, 256-bit encryption, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. Additionally, there’s a stealth mode for bypassing regional internet censorship and a true no-logs policy. PrivateVPN recently took more steps to enhance user privacy at the infrastructural level as well, and now has full control over your traffic at all times. Live chat and email support are available at almost any time of day.
PrivateVPN has its own Linux, Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS apps. If you’d like to protect an entire network at once, you can manually configure it for supported internet routers.
- Provides some of the fastest speeds around
- Exceptional unblocking capabilities
- Great set of security features
- True no-logging policy
- Has just one server in Russia
STREAM SAFELY ANYWHERE:PrivateVPN is packed with security tools yet it remains easy enough for anyone to use. Boasts extremely high speeds, exceptional unblocking capabilities, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our comprehensive review of PrivateVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Hotspot Shield is fast enough for lag-free live streaming, and with around 1,800 servers in 80+ countries, there really aren’t many limits on what you can watch. In fact, it works just as well with Smotrim as it does with Sling TV, Netflix, or Disney+. Torrenting is allowed too, and users can secure up to five of their devices simultaneously.
This VPN has its own Hydra protocol that it claims is 2.4 times faster than OpenVPN (although recent updates have also introduced IKEv2 support). Additionally, the apps offer 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a tool that can connect automatically any time you use an unsecured network. Hotspot Shield doesn’t keep any logs that could identify you. Live chat-based support is available day or night, seven days a week.
Hotspot Shield provides Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS apps. Alternatively, users can follow manual setup guides to install this service directly onto supported network routers.
- Fast and easy to use
- No issues with RTR or Match TV
- Comprehensive security
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- Has had privacy issues in the past
GREAT ALL-ROUNDER:Hotspot Shield is a fantastic choice for watching RTR abroad, torrenting, or just keeping yourself anonymous as you browse. Provides high speeds, an excellent set of security features, and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Hotspot Shield review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN offers access to roughly 700 servers in over 70 locations, Russia included. It’s not as quick as some others in this list, but your connection should still be enough for 4K streaming. Users can access not just RTR, but also in-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max. This provider permits a whopping 30 connections at any one time, which is six times the industry average.
This service uses IPv6 and DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and 256-bit encryption to shield your activities from snoopers. Its security credentials continue to improve, though, with the latest version supporting WireGuard connections too. Automatic wifi protection ensures you can safely use public networks, and with a zero-logs policy, there’s no need to worry about the Russian government seeing what you do online. Help is available via 24/7 live chat.
VyprVPN offers easy to use apps for Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Linux. Further, it can be manually installed on a wide range of supported home routers.
- Allows far more simultaneous connections than its rivals
- Works well with popular streaming services
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- Speeds could be improved
- No anonymous payment options
30 CONNECTIONS AT ONCE:VyprVPN is surprisingly accessible given its impressive security loadout. Better still, it allows you to protect every device you own simultaneously, so you can stream RTR anywhere you like. A 30-day money-back guarantee is also included.
Why not take a look at our in-depth VyprVPN review?
Methodology: How we chose the best VPNs for RTR
Unfortunately, you can’t just install the first VPN you see and call it a day. Not every service is suitable for streaming, and fewer still can reliably unblock Russian platforms from abroad. Additionally, because of Russia’s creeping online censorship, there are real privacy implications to consider. When choosing the best VPNs for RTR, we took these aspects into account:
- Russian servers: These are required for unblocking RTR, so we could quickly eliminate any candidates that didn’t have servers in Russia.
- Security tools: Russia monitors web traffic and prevents anonymous internet access. That’s why we look for services with strong encryption, kill switches, and leak protection. We prefer VPNs with stealth modes capable of evading Russian censorship entirely.
- Privacy features: The government is allowed to seize VPN servers. To protect you in the event that this happens, we only recommend providers with no-logs policies. Ideally, users would be given an anonymous way to pay, such as with Bitcoin or prepaid cards.
- Speeds: If a service isn’t fast enough for 4K streaming, we won’t recommend it. Of course, this is just a base requirement; we’d rather see higher speeds, if possible.
- Value: We compare each candidate against similarly-priced rivals to see if they’re really worth what they charge. If there’s a better alternative for a lower price, we’ll say so.
- Ease of use: The services we recommend must be simple enough for total beginners. We also value VPNs that are accessible in other ways, such as by removing connection limits, providing numerous ways to pay, and having apps for multiple platforms.
- Versatility: We don’t want to recommend services that are only suitable for one task. That’s why we check if they allow torrenting, as well as whether they work with platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
This is just a brief glimpse at some of the tests we conduct. You can find out more in our full testing methodology post.
Can I unblock RTR with a free VPN?
It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to stream RTR using a free VPN. To begin with, most providers focus on offering servers in high-traffic areas like the US, so you’ll likely struggle to find one with Russian servers. Your problems don’t end there, though: the service also has to offer unlimited bandwidth, provide speeds high enough for live streaming, and work consistently with RTR (which is no small feat, given how quickly free VPNs are blacklisted).
Next, you’ll have to consider your digital security. Russia’s government has several ways to monitor your activities, and if your chosen service doesn’t use encryption (like 18% of free VPNs), you aren’t protected in any way. We strongly advise you to make the price just one aspect of your decision, rather than just using any free VPN with Russian servers.
Streaming Russia TV live from abroad: FAQs
Are VPNs legal to use in Russia?
Although there has been much talk of a Russian “VPN ban” in recent years, these services are still legal, provided they don’t allow users to access content that the government has blocked. It’s worth bearing in mind that the law allows security services to access a VPN provider’s servers whenever they like. As such, you should only use VPNs with a no-logs policy, since these will reveal no useful information about you or your online activities.
Data privacy legislation is extremely complex and differs from one country to another. If there’s any doubt in your mind about whether VPNs are legal in your location, we strongly advise you to consult your region’s laws before attempting to use one.
Can I watch RTR without a Russian phone number?
Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to watch RTR (also known as Smotrim and Russia.tv) live without a valid Russian phone number. This is because users must create an account to access the live streams, then enter a code that’s sent to their device. However, you can stream on-demand content without signing up. Replays are generally added shortly after the live broadcast ends, so there really isn’t much of a downside for unregistered users.
What can I watch on RTR?
Smotrim allows you to access 14 Russian TV channels and radio stations live online. These are:
- Россия 24 (Russia 24)
- Россия K (Russia K)
- РТР-Планета (RTR-Planet)
- Москва 24 (Moscow 24)
- Домашний (Home)
- Известия (News)
- Звезда (Star)
- Муз-ТВ (Muz-TV)
- Пятый канал (Fifth Channel)
- РЕН ТВ (Ren TV)
- СПАС (SPAS)
- СТС (STS)
- CTC Love (STS Love)
- Че (That)
Naturally, with so many channels to choose from, you can expect to stream a broad range of content. Below, you’ll find a small selection of what RTR has to offer:
- Euro 2020
- По разным берегам (On Different Shores)
- Лучшая подруга (Best Friend)
- Несмотря ни на что (No Matter What)
- Я вижу твой голос (I See Your Voice)
- Королева дорог (Queen of the Roads)
- Привет, Андрей! (Hi, Andrew!)
- Доктор Мясников (Doctor Myasnikov)