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7 Best (+ Safest) VPNs for Russia That Still Work (Tested 2023)

Stephen Wright
Last Updated by Stephen Wright on January 24, 2023

With Russia cracking down on VPNs, it’s becoming harder for people to access VPN sites, download them, and pay for a subscription — especially with Visa, UnionPay, and Mastercard no longer operating in Russia. Plus, even if you can get one, there’s no guarantee it’ll bypass Russia’s strict censorship and firewalls.

Now that it’s dangerous to use the internet in Russia without a VPN, we looked for the safest and best VPNs to unblock censored sites and ensure your anonymity.

After testing over 30 VPNs, I found ExpressVPN excels in Russia due to its superfast speeds and obfuscation technology. Best of all, you can try ExpressVPN for Russia risk-free. Every plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can claim a refund if you’re not happy. When I tested the guarantee, the full fee was credited to my account 5 days later.

Get ExpressVPN for Russia

Quick Guide: Best VPNs for Russia in 2023

  1. ExpressVPN — The best privacy and security features available with superfast speeds and advanced obfuscation technology. Try ExpressVPN risk-free.
  2. CyberGhost — P2P-optimized servers in Russia for reliable and anonymous torrenting, but its long-distance connections aren’t very fast.
  3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — The largest server network of any VPN, but its headquarters are in the US at the heart of the 5 Eyes Alliance.
  4. NordVPN — Connect to two VPN servers simultaneously, but its obfuscation technology isn’t as effective as ExpressVPN.
  5. Surfshark — Combats restrictions with NoBorders mode, but its headquarters are in the Netherlands, which is part of the 9 Eyes Alliance.
  6. PrivateVPN — High-Quality Network servers in Russia ensure fast speeds, but its headquarters are in Sweden, a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance.
  7. IPVanish — Hide from DPI on all your devices, but it only accepts debit cards, credit cards, and PayPal.

Try ExpressVPN for Russia

The Best VPNs for Russia (Tested in January 2023)

1. ExpressVPN — The #1 VPN For Russia With Advanced Obfuscation Technology

Key Features:

  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries, including Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland, Moldova, and Romania
  • Advanced obfuscation technology, AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, TrustedServer Technology, and DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak protection
  • Unblock Telegram and more on up to 5 devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Xbox, routers, and more
  • 24/7 live chat and video tutorials for instant support whenever you need
  • Try it out risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN’s advanced obfuscation makes it the best VPN for accessing anything from Russia. It’s powerful enough to overcome most restrictions, including China’s Great Firewall. Plus, by disguising your VPN traffic as regular traffic, you can avoid detection and get around VPN bans.

Aside from obfuscation, ExpressVPN offers the following features to protect your identity and activity from prying eyes:

  • AES 256-bit military-grade encryption with perfect forward secrecy makes it impossible for hackers to intercept your data, protecting all past and future sessions.
  • RAM-only servers ensure that none of your identifying information or browsing history is ever stored on any hard drives, so there’s nothing to see if anyone does gain access to ExpressVPN’s servers.
  • No-logs policy audited by 2 independent firms verifies that ExpressVPN doesn’t log or share any user data. In 2017, Turkish authorities seized ExpressVPN servers and found no user data.
  • “Network Lock” kill switch keeps your data from leaking on an unencrypted connection by blocking all internet traffic until you connect to an ExpressVPN server.
  • 4 secure protocols, including its proprietary Lightway protocol — optimized for enhanced speed and security, so you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
  • SHA-512 HMAC authentication ensures that the traffic you’re receiving really comes from ExpressVPN servers and hasn’t been tampered with.
  • DNS, IPv4, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection guarantees that your IP address and location are always hidden, even from your ISP and Roskomnadzor.
Screenshot of ExpressVPN connected to Moldova and a successful IP checker test
ExpressVPN never revealed my true location when I connected to its servers

Additionally, I found that ExpressVPN’s headquarters are in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a privacy-friendly jurisdiction that isn’t subject to any data retention laws. This allows you to stay hidden online without fear of ExpressVPN sharing your data with the Russian authorities.

With 3000+ servers in 94 countries, you might be disappointed that ExpressVPN doesn’t have any servers in Russia. However, like many leading VPNs, ExpressVPN shut down its Russian servers to protect user privacy. This way, they don’t have to comply with Roskomnadzor’s demands that they log user data. What’s more, since streaming services like Ivi and Start.ru aren’t geo-restricted, you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite Russian-language content from anywhere.

If you’re connecting from Russia, you’ll have no trouble finding a fast, nearby server — ExpressVPN has servers in many neighboring countries, including Latvia, Finland, Poland, Moldova, and Romania. You’ll even find virtual servers for Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

When I tested 30+ servers across the globe, I was impressed at the consistency of my speeds. Whether I connected to Poland or Mexico, ExpressVPN’s speeds never dropped more than 17%. This drop was small enough that I didn’t notice the difference, even when I used the VPN for streaming and gaming.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN speed test showing fast speeds on its Poland server
All ExpressVPN’s servers are consistently fast

Through extensive testing, I found that ExpressVPN could access the following services from Russia:

Netflix (15+ libraries) Hulu Amazon Prime Video Dailymotion Voice of America
Facebook Instagram Telegram The Tor Project Ukrainian news sites
BBC News Binance Kraken OKX …and more!

While ExpressVPN is a bit pricey compared to the other VPNs on this list, its advanced obfuscation and strict privacy policy make it worth it. Plus, you’ll get 49% off when you buy a 1-year + 3 months plan and pay just $6.67/month. If you’re in Russia, you can pay for your ExpressVPN subscription with Qiwi or cryptocurrency.

You can try ExpressVPN for Russia at no risk to you. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a refund if you’re not happy. I tested the policy myself by requesting a refund via live chat. My request was approved in under 5 minutes, and the full fee was returned to my account 5 days later.

ExpressVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV devices, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, routers, and more.

Try ExpressVPN for Russia risk-free

January 2023 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

2. CyberGhost — Get a Russian IP Address and Torrent Anonymously on 60+ P2P-Optimized Russian Servers

Key Features:

  • 9633+ servers in 91 countries, including 60+ in Russia and 370+ in neighboring countries
  • Military-grade encryption with 2,048-bit RSA Keys, MD5 HMAC authentication, DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak protection, and an automatic kill switch
  • Protect up to 7 devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, and more
  • 24/7 live chat and email support
  • A generous 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost offers hundreds of Russian IP addresses on its 60+ Russian servers. Even though these are virtual servers (for your privacy), they give you a Russian IP address to access your streaming accounts, banking platforms, and local news sites.

All its Russian servers are P2P-optimized, which means you’ll have faster download and upload speeds for downloading torrents. No matter which torrent client you use for your downloads, your data will be protected by the following security features:

  • 256-bit encryption with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 for HMAC authentication ensures that your data cannot be hacked or intercepted, even with a supercomputer.
  • DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection allows you to switch tabs and browsers without leaking your cached location or IP address.
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols provide a strong balance of security and speed with limited vulnerabilities.
  • A strict zero-logs policy audited by Deloitte.

Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost’s headquarters are outside the reach of high surveillance governments — Romania. It’s not subject to the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance or any data-retention laws.

CyberGhost also hosts its NoSpy servers in its Romanian data center. These servers are privately owned and operated to minimize the risk of hacks or physical tampering. While most people use them for extra security, NoSpy servers are also a good option for increased speed and reliability. They have their own dedicated uplink to ensure fast speeds and stable connections.

Screenshot of CyberGhosts Windows app showing NoSpy servers in Romania
NoSpy servers are close to Russia but in a privacy-friendly country

When I tested servers in Russia or the 370+ servers in surrounding countries, CyberGhost instantly accessed the following services:

Russia 1 Netflix (US, UK, & more) TNT BBC News Telegram
Voice of America Bellingcat Facebook OKX …and more

During speed tests, CyberGhost’s servers were very fast on local connections and showed only a 15% reduction from my regular internet speeds. However, when I connected to servers more than 10,000km from my location, my speed dropped by up to 40%.

CyberGhost’s short-term subscriptions are quite pricey, but you’ll pay just $2.19 a month when you sign up for a 2-year + 2 months plan. Russian residents have the option of using Qiwi or BitPay at checkout.

If you’re not ready to commit, you can try CyberGhost completely free with its 45-day money-back guarantee. Claiming a refund is easy, and you don’t need to give a reason. When I tested it, my money was fully refunded within 5 working days.

CyberGhost works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Firefox, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku, smart TVs, routers, and more.

Try CyberGhost in Russia

January 2023 Update! You can subscribe to CyberGhost for as low as $2.19 per month + get extra 2 months free with the 2-year plan (save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — A Vast Network of International Servers For Reliable Access to Restricted Sites

Key Features:

  • 35000+ servers in 84 countries, including 310+ in Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Moldova, and Romania
  • Military-grade encryption, multihop with Shadowsocks proxy, MACE ad and malware blockers, DNS, IPv4, and IPv6 leak protection
  • Access Deutsche Welle on up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and more
  • 24/7 live chat and email support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Private Internet Access (PIA) has the largest server network by far, with 35000+ servers in 84 countries, including 310+ in Russia’s neighboring countries. This is great for you if you want to access restricted sites like BBC News, Deutsche Welle, Facebook, and Telegram.

You’ll also unblock the following platforms and their libraries with PIA:

Netflix (US & more) Disney+ Amazon Prime Video Radio Free Liberty Euronews
Instagram LinkedIn Dailymotion Archive.org Binance

While it isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN or CyberGhost, you can still stream content in UHD without buffering or lag with PIA. Its NextGen servers only slowed my speeds by 25% on average.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access unblocking Start.ru while connected to a server in Latvia
You’ll have excellent streaming speeds on all PIA servers

A minor con you should be aware of is that PIA’s headquarters are in the US, meaning it’s a part of the 5 Eyes Alliance — a knowledge-sharing network of international governments that can request user data. However, the following list of advanced security features ensures your anonymity, even in 5 Eyes countries like the US:

  • MACE ad and malware blockers reduce your chances of running into malicious ads and viruses while protecting against cyber attacks like spyware and ransomware.
  • Military-grade encryption ensures your data is unhackable.
  • Data leak protection keeps your location and IP address hidden from third parties, including Roskomnadzor and your ISP.
  • A strict no-logs policy, audited by Deloitte, verifies that PIA doesn’t collect any of your data.
  • Multihop and obfuscation add an extra layer of encryption by rerouting your connection through the Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxy and making it look like a regular internet connection.
  • An automatic kill switch stops your internet connection if your VPN malfunctions or disconnects from its encrypted servers.

At just $2.19/month, PIA is essentially the same price as competing VPNs CyberGhost, Surfshark, and PrivateVPN. This means you can access the largest server network available without having to pay a premium. Plus, PIA accepts Qiwi and crypto payments to ensure people in Russia have access to its services.

Thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try PIA for Russia completely free. After testing it for a few weeks, I sent an email to customer support asking for a refund. I only waited a few hours for a response and received the full fee just 4 days later.

PIA works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, routers, and more.

Get PIA for Russia

January 2023 Update! For a limited time only, save 82% with the 2-year plan + get an additional 2 months free! Hurry and check out the deal here!

4. NordVPN — Double VPN Provides Extra Protection for Russian Users

Key Features:

  • 5456+ servers in 60 countries, including Finland, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine
  • Watch Voice of America on up to 6 devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and more
  • 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and FAQ page
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

NordVPN’s Double VPN feature adds an extra layer of protection for accessing the web from Russia. It does this by routing your traffic through 2 servers rather than 1 and doubling the encryption. This makes it difficult for anyone to track your online activity or trace anything back to you.

You’ll also get the following top-tier security features when you use NordVPN in Russia:

  • CyberSec ad and malware blocker stops pop-up ads and malicious trackers from loading. It also protects you from DDoS attacks and phishing scams.
  • DNS & IP leak protection keeps your IP address, location, and DNS servers hidden.
  • A no-logs policy (audited by PwC), so you can trust that NordVPN won’t collect any personal or browsing data.
  • 3 protocol options, including NordLynx, which uses “double NAT” to ensure user data is never written to its servers.
  • Split tunneling allows you to choose which applications use your VPN connection and which don’t, which is great when browsing local sites.

NordVPN’s headquarters are in Panama, a county well-known for valuing privacy. It has no data retention laws and isn’t affiliated with any intelligence-sharing alliances.

While NordVPN doesn’t have servers in Russia, its 5456+ servers worldwide include most of its neighboring countries — Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Moldova, and Romania. This makes it easy to find a nearby server if you’re connecting from Russia.

Unfortunately, none of the NordVPN servers in this region are obfuscated. This can make it tricky to stay under the radar when using a VPN in Russia. For peace of mind and an extra layer of protection, I suggest using ExpressVPNs obfuscated servers instead.

When my team and I tested NordVPN’s servers, we found that it could access the following platforms:

Ivi Netflix YouTube TV Twitter TikTok Telegram
Crypto wallets Tor Project Archive.is Euronews Bellingcat Voice of America

You can get NordVPN for $3.49/month when you sign up for a 2-year plan. Plus, you can buy a NordVPN subscription using a prepaid card or cryptocurrency — ideal for signing up from Russia.

If you’d like to test it for yourself, you can get NordVPN for Russia completely free, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. Getting your money back is easy — just ask for a refund through 24/7 live chat or email before the 30 days are up. I tried it and received a full refund after providing a reason for canceling.

NordVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and more.

Use NordVPN for Russia risk-free

5. Surfshark — NoBorders Mode Combats Restrictions in High Censorship Countries

Key Features:

  • 3200+ servers in 99 countries, including Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine
  • Access any social media platform on up to unlimited devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Kodi, Roku, and more
  • 24/7 live chat and Surfschool help you use Surfshark
  • Install it using its 30-day money-back guarantee

Surfshark’s NoBorders Mode automatically activates when you connect from a restrictive country. As soon as the app detects internet restrictions or a firewall, the NoBorders feature recommends the best servers to bypass those restrictions. This will help you access a fully unrestricted web from Russia.

In addition to NoBorders, Surfshark also provides multiple privacy and security features, including the following:

  • Camouflage mode obfuscates your VPN traffic to make your connection look like regular, non-VPN internet activity.
  • CleanWeb blocks all trackers, ads, and malware from accessing your device, tracking you, or ruining your streaming and browsing experience.
  • MultiHop servers allow you to send your internet connection through two servers instead of one, encrypting your data twice.
  • DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection ensures your DNS requests, IP address, and location are hidden from third parties, even on IPv6-enabled devices.
  • A no-logs policy means that all your data is deleted and will not be collected or stored.
  • 4 secure VPN protocols, including WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Shadowsocks.
  • An automatic kill switch.

Like the other VPNs on this list, Surfshark has a RAM-only server network. While it doesn’t have any in Russia, you’ll find Surfshark servers in most of its neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and more.

You can unblock the following websites and platforms with Surfshark:

Netflix YouTube TV Ivi MEGOGO Crunchyroll Amazon Prime Video
Amnesty International BBC News Facebook Instagram Telegram Tor Project

Unfortunately, Surfshark’s headquarters are in the Netherlands, a member of the 9 Eyes Alliance. Nonetheless, with a strict no-logs policy, Surfshark can’t share your data with the authorities.

Surfshark lets you purchase a subscription using cryptocurrency, Qiwi, or Webmoney — increasing access to its services in Russia. Plus, for just $2.30/month, I think it’s great value for money, considering its many security features.

You can take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee to try it totally free. As long as you cancel within the 30 days, you’ll get a full refund. When I tested the policy, I only waited 7 days to get my money back.

Surfshark works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Xbox, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Android TVs, routers, and more.

Try Surfshark in Russia

6. PrivateVPN — The Most Affordable VPN With Servers Russia, Ukraine, & More

Key Features:

  • 200+ servers in 63 countries, including Russia (2), Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Moldova, and Romania
  • Stream Netflix in UHD on up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, routers, Kodi, Roku, and more
  • Live chat support and extensive knowledge base
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

From just $2.00 a month on a 3-year plan, PrivateVPN is the most budget-friendly VPN for Russia. It has 2 Russian servers and 1 each in Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Moldova, and Romania.

Unlike other VPNs, PrivateVPN offers dedicated IP addresses in 15+ locations at no extra charge. These dedicated IPs make it easier to bypass restrictions, as you’ll be the only one using that IP address at any time.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN unblocking Russia-1 while connected to a server in Moscow, Russia
PrivateVPN’s small server network is powerful

If you’re connecting from Russia, you can connect to nearby dedicated IP servers in Poland or Japan. When I tested them, these servers easily accessed the following services:

Russia-1 Disney+ YouTube TV MUBI MEGOGO Ivi
Amazon Prime Video Facebook Instagram Tiktok Telegram BBC News

Unfortunately, PrivateVPN’s headquarters are in Sweden, a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance. Nevertheless, PrivateVPN enforces a strict no-logs policy, meaning you don’t have to worry about your data being shared with the authorities.

In addition to its no-logs policy, you’ll be protected by various security features, including:

  • Stealth VPN with Shadowsocks proxy obfuscates your internet connection in high-censorship countries like Russia, ensuring access despite firewalls.
  • Customizable encryption means you can choose between 128-bit and 256-bit encryption, depending on the speed and level of security you need.
  • A kill switch ensures you’re protected by shutting off your internet connection when not connected to a VPN.
  • DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection.
  • 4 tunneling protocols — OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and IKEv2.

While its longer-term plans are cheaper, PrivateVPN also has one of the most affordable short-term subscriptions. If you’re currently in Russia, you’ll only be able to buy a subscription with crypto, as PrivateVPN doesn’t accept Qiwi.

You can get PrivateVPN essentially free by taking advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee. To get a refund, you’ll need to reach out to customer support via email. When I requested a refund, I was impressed to get a response just a few hours later and waited less than a week for my money to be returned.

PrivateVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Xiaomi Mi Box, Google Chromecast, Android TVs, routers, and more.

Use PrivateVPN in Russia

7. IPVanish — Prevent Deep Packet Inspection on All Your Devices Simultaneously

Key Features:

  • 2000+ servers in 75 countries, including Latvia, Finland, Poland, Moldova, and Romania
  • Unblock Telegram and Ivi on all your devices simultaneously
  • Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, consoles, and more
  • 24/7 live chat and dedicated phone support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

With IPVanish, you can hide from DPI on all your devices and bypass online restrictions in Russia. Plus, with unlimited connections, you don’t have to worry about accidentally using an unprotected device to access the internet in Russia.

It also has other security features that protect you in Russia, including:

  • AES 256-bit encryption and XOR cipher ensure it’s impossible to hack you while obfuscating your VPN connection.
  • 5 protocols — WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPsec, and L2TP.
  • A zero-logs policy stops third parties from being able to intercept and steal your data.
  • An automatic kill switch blocks your internet connection if your VPN disconnects.

IPVanish has 2000+ servers in 75 countries, including Russia’s neighboring countries like Poland and Romania. This ensures fast speeds for UHD streaming and stutter-free browsing. What’s more, IPVanish can access the following sites:

Netflix (US & more) Hulu Euronews Facebook Instagram
Telegram MUBI MEGOGO …and more!

If you want to catch up on the news from independent Russian outlets and international media organizations, IPVanish’s servers quickly load every news site I tested it with.

Screenshot of IPVanish unblocking Euronews while connected to a server in Bucharest, Romania
You can unblock independent news with IPVanish

I was disappointed that IPVanish doesn’t accept Russian payment methods or cryptocurrency. But you can get someone outside Russia to purchase the subscription for you with a payment method available in their region.

You can get IPVanish for $3.99 a month on a 1 year plan, or you can try it completely free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Canceling your subscription is easy and can be done without the help of customer support. Once I canceled my plan in my account settings, my refund was automatically processed. I got a full refund the very same day.

IPVanish works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Xbox, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku, Google Chromecast, Android TVs, routers, and more.

Try IPVanish risk-free

Comparison Table: 2023’s Best VPNs for Russia

Russian IP Address Obfuscation Technology Superfast Speeds Privacy-Safe Jurisdiction Lowest Price /Month
ExpressVPN $6.67
CyberGhost $2.19
PIA $2.19
NordVPN $3.49
Surfshark $2.30
PrivateVPN $2.00
IPVanish $3.99

Why You Need a VPN for Russia in 2023

There are various reasons why you need a VPN for Russia in 2023, especially if you live within its borders under strict censorship.

  • Roskomnadzor: The agency that controls and censors Russian media makes it impossible to access many apps, websites, and platforms with a Russian IP address. Plus, strict requirements regarding the collection and use of personal data remove any chances of privacy and online freedom unless you have a VPN.
  • Deep Packet Inspection (DPI): Unfortunately, military-grade encryption isn’t enough to hide VPN traffic from your ISP or the Russian government’s firewalls. Without a VPN, you won’t have the advanced obfuscation required to disguise your traffic and bypass censorship.
  • Free speech: There is no right to free speech in Russia, making it dangerous to share information or opinions that oppose the Russian regime. Recently, Russian lawmakers have officially approved fake news laws, criminalizing the spread of what they deem false information about Russian state bodies. If you share such information without a VPN, you could face up to 15 years in prison.
  • Torrenting: If you live in Russia or have a Russian IP address, you cannot access and download the content you want. However, with a VPN, you’ll gain access to torrenting sites and won’t have to worry about restrictions or trackers while downloading content.
  • Streaming: While in Russia, you’ll need a VPN to access popular streaming platforms like Hulu and BBC iPlayer. You can use a VPN to access your Netflix US account if you’re traveling to Russia.

Russian Internet Censorship and Regulation

1. “The Telegram Blocking”

A prominent example of internet censorship in Russia is Telegram, where Roskomnadzor attempted to ban Telegram by blocking over 19 million IP addresses. Despite this, its efforts failed, and Telegram stayed online. However, hundreds of websites and apps unrelated to Telegram were restricted or shut down.

Examples of sites shut down included Twitch, Viber, MasterCard, e-commerce and banking sites, and more. Unfortunately, it took over a month for them to be put back online despite never being the target in the first place.

2. The Yarovaya Law

Approved in 2016, “The Yarovaya Law” criminalized extremism online. However, in this instance, extremism includes modest protests and the “humiliation of national dignity” — resulting in up to 5 years in prison.

The law also allows Russian telecommunication companies and ISPs to store detailed communication records for 6 months and metadata for up to 3 years. Discouragingly, this gives the Russian government and Roskomnadzor the ability to access information showing everything you’ve ever done online.

3. Russia’s Internet Isolation (Establishing RuNet)

Despite not being ready for development, one of the biggest steps of Russia’s censorship strategy includes creating its own alternative to the global internet.

In anticipation of this, the “Sovereign Internet” law came into play, allowing the Russian government to switch off Russia’s access to the internet in emergency situations. Additionally, there are plans to develop the Russian government’s version of Wikipedia by 2023 in a bid to share ‘reliable’ information — allowing the state to rewrite history and influence the knowledge Russian citizens have of history.

If Russia’s censorship strategy results in the establishment of a domestic internet, VPNs won’t provide access to the world wide web.

Note: While using a VPN doesn’t violate Russian law, it may if your chosen VPN hasn’t been authorized by the Russian authorities.

Stay anonymous with ExpressVPN

How I Tested and Ranked the Best VPNs for Russia

After testing the leading VPNs in 2023, I found the top 7 for Russia based on the following criteria:

  • Bypasses censorship and geo-restrictions: Every VPN above unblocks streaming services like Dailymotion, apps like Telegram, news sites, and more while in Russia.
  • Strict no-logs policy and safe jurisdiction: The outlined VPNs won’t collect personal data or internet activity and are mostly outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance.
  • Advanced security features: Each VPN has AES 256-bit encryption, DNS & IP leak protection, obfuscation technology, and an automatic kill switch to ensure anonymity.
  • Fast or superfast speeds: You’ll experience speeds perfect for high-bandwidth activities like UHD streaming, long-distance video calls, and online gaming without buffering or lag.
  • Servers in Russia or surrounding countries: Two VPNs have servers in Russia, while the rest have servers in Russia’s neighboring countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Romania, Moldova, and more.
  • Accepts cryptocurrency or Qiwi: Most VPNs accept cryptocurrency, meaning you’ll be able to purchase a subscription in Russia.
  • Responsive customer support: Every VPN on this list gives you access to 24/7 live chat or email support, phone support, and online resources for instant help.
  • Easy-to-use apps and compatibility: All the VPNs outlined above have easy-to-use apps compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and many more devices.

Protect yourself in Russia with ExpressVPN

3 Easy Steps to Set Up a VPN in Russia

  1. Get a VPN. I recommend you try ExpressVPN due to its superfast speeds and advanced obfuscation technology. Plus, you can pay with Qiwi or cryptocurrency.
  2. Connect to a server in Russia or close by. The closer you are to a server, the faster speeds you’ll get — allowing you to participate in high-bandwidth activities without lag.
  3. Browse the web without fear. You’re now hidden from the Russian authorities and can browse the web without restrictions.

How to Pay for a VPN in Russia

Since Visa, Mastercard, and UnionPay are no longer available in Russia, the best way to pay for a VPN is using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Nevertheless, when paying for an ExpressVPN subscription from Russia, you get more flexibility in terms of payment options. For example, you can pay via Qiwi when purchasing your subscription, which you can’t do with many VPN providers.

How to Buy a VPN Subscription for Someone in Russia

If you’re unable to access a VPN website to download it on your device, you have two options:

  1. Download Brave browser. Once open, go to “File” and open a “New Private Window” with Tor. In doing so, you’ll get access to the VPNs website without running into error messages.
  2. If that doesn’t work, message your friends abroad. Ask them to contact your desired VPN provider and ask for a unique download link. In some instances, you’ll hear back in less than 30 minutes.

With a 24/7 live chat giving you constant access to its customer service team, ExpressVPN can respond to your queries in less than 5 minutes. Additionally, they solve your problems and won’t leave you hanging like other VPN providers I’ve tried.

If you’re looking for a responsive team of experts and advanced security features for guaranteed protection in Russia, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a refund if you’re not happy.

Get ExpressVPN for Russia

FAQs: VPNs and Russia

Which VPNs have servers in Russia?

CyberGhost and PrivateVPN have servers in Russia, giving you a Russian IP address that ensures anonymity and protection. However, CyberGhost is the better option with 60+ Russian servers compared to PrivateVPN’s 2.

Most VPNs left Russia to ensure their user’s online freedom and privacy — as Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship and control (Roskomnadzor) told them to connect their systems to its blacklist or face permanent restrictions.

CyberGhost is the exception, providing virtual servers in secure locations not governed by Russia or Roskomnadzor. Whereas, PrivateVPN has physical locations in Russia but cannot share your data or internet activity with the authorities due to its strict no-logs policy.

How can I get a Russian IP address?

To get a Russian IP address, you need to download a VPN with virtual or physical servers in Russia — CyberGhost or PrivateVPN. Limited VPN providers have servers in Russia due to Roskomnadzor, which expects to restrict VPN users from accessing specific sites.

To get a Russian IP address, follow these quick and easy steps:

  1. Download a VPN with Russian servers. I recommend you try CyberGhost’s 60+ virtual Russian servers (out of reach of Russian authorities).
  2. Sign in and enable all advanced security features. You must turn on OpenVPN’s security protocol, DNS, IP, and IPv6 leak protection, and the automatic kill switch.
  3. Connect to its Russian server. You’ll get a Russian IP address and location.

Top Tip: Check that the VPN is working by using this IP checker tool. If it shows the same IP address as your VPN connection, it’s working and keeping you anonymous.

Is it legal to use a VPN in Russia?

It’s legal to use a VPN in Russia if that VPN has been authorized by the Russian government. However, VPNs must share user data with Roskomnadzor and agree to block all websites in its blacklist to get authorized. This is why many top VPNs no longer operate within Russia and are considered unauthorized by the Russian government.

If caught using an unauthorized VPN in Russia, you and your VPN provider will have to pay fines — 300,000 RUB (~$4,300) for you and 700,000 RUB (~$10,000) for your VPN.

Despite this, the VPNs on this list offer advanced security features that make it impossible for the Russian government to intercept your data or identify you when browsing the web. For example, military-grade encryption, secure protocols, obfuscation technology, DNS/IP leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a no-logs policy will ensure your anonymity without fail.

Which VPN protocol should I use in Russia?

OpenVPN is the best VPN protocol for Russia, especially when it comes to protecting yourself against internet censorship and surveillance. Plus, due to being open-source with no known vulnerabilities, OpenVPN is offered by all the top VPNs for Russia.

With AES 256-bit encryption, 2048-bit RSA authentication, and a 160-bit SHA1 hash algorithm, OpenVPN is the most secure protocol available and allows you to bypass more firewalls than any other protocol. However, it doesn’t obfuscate your internet traffic, meaning that it doesn’t disguise your VPN traffic and may be found during deep packet inspections.

The only way to obfuscate your VPN traffic is to get a stealth VPN or find a stealth protocol compatible with your VPN provider. For example, PIA and IPVanish are compatible with Shadowsocks Proxy and OpenVPN scramble — hiding your VPN traffic by disguising it as HTTPS traffic.

Can I download a VPN in Russia?

Yes, you can download a VPN in Russia if you have access to its website. However, if you can’t access a VPN website, you have three ways to get around it:

  1. Ask your provider for an alternative URL or download link.
  2. Use the Tor browser to reroute your traffic through multiple nodes and hide your IP address. In doing so, you’ll get access to blocked URLs, including VPN websites.
  3. Download Brave browser. You’ll get access to blocked sites through the Tor network without needing to download Tor.

What sites and apps are blocked in Russia?

The number of sites and apps blocked in Russia increases every day, with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok restricted. Since February 2022, over 3,670 websites have been blocked for posting content related to the invasion of Ukraine.

Aside from social media platforms, Russia ensures its citizens have little access to news channels, especially Ukrainian news sites. Plus, you won’t have access to any independent Russian media outlets, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Amnesty International, Radio Free Liberty, Bellingcat, Euronews, or BBC News.

Other blocked sites in Russia include pro-LBGT sites, the Tor Project, several currency and cryptocurrency exchanges, Dailymotion, and Telegram. Nonetheless, you’ll get instant access to all of them using premium VPNs with advanced obfuscation, as they’ll ensure your anonymity and privacy from Roskomnadzor.

Interestingly, Russia also blocks web archiving sites, including archive.org, archive.ec, and archive.is. But, with a VPN that provides advanced security features, you don’t have to worry about losing access to your accounts or being intercepted by the Russian government.

How can I stay anonymous online in Russia?

There are a few ways to stay safe and anonymous online while in Russia, including:

  1. Get a VPN. The safest and best VPNs hide your IP address and location, tunnel your internet connection through encrypted servers, and keep your internet activity private with trustworthy no-logs policies.
  2. Use Tor. The Tor Browser sends web traffic through multiple intermediary nodes before delivering it to its final destination, hiding your IP address and making it more difficult to identify you. However, Tor is best for low-bandwidth activities, as it can be very slow.
  3. Try a pseudonym. Changing the name you use to post content online can make it much harder for the authorities to find out who you are or link you to restricted sites.
  4. Don’t post personal content. Discussing what you’ve done recently or geotagging your location on social media should be avoided at all costs.
  5. Check app permissions. Making sure your apps aren’t stealing your information is imperative when staying safe online. For example, apps can access your location, microphone, address book, messages, local network, photos, camera, usage data, and files.

Can I use a free VPN in Russia?

It’s possible, but not recommended in Russia or any other country with strict internet censorship. Free VPNs can’t provide the same level of security and privacy as a premium VPN for Russia.

Many free VPNs rely on data logging and selling user information to third parties to supplement the income they lose on free plans. This makes it more likely that you’ll be identified and penalized by Roskomnadzor or other law enforcement agencies.

Even the best free VPNs on the market limit your ability to use their services. You’ll only have access to a few connections (usually 1), with strict data caps, speed throttling, and no streaming or torrenting support.

Instead of a dubious free service, I suggest you invest in a premium VPN with a lengthy money-back guarantee. The 45-day guarantee from CyberGhost gives you more than a month to test every feature — if you’re not satisfied, you can easily get a full refund.

Hide your IP address with ExpressVPN

Be Careful! Not Every VPN Is Safe or Works in Russia

Russia requires VPN providers to blacklist specific websites and share user data with Roskomnadzor, meaning many VPNs won’t work in Russia as their primary focus is your online freedom. Accordingly, you need a VPN that unblocks blacklisted sites without showing your ISP or the Russian authorities that you’re using a VPN.

After testing more than 30 VPNs, I found that ExpressVPN is the VPN for Russia in 2023. It has advanced obfuscation, RAM-based servers, an audited zero-logs policy, and robust security measures in place. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free and get a refund if you’re not completely satisfied. I put the money-back guarantee to the test and received a refund in just 5 days.

Try ExpressVPN for Russia risk-free


Summary — These Are the Best and Safest VPNs for Russia in 2023

Top Choice
ExpressVPN
$6.67 / month Save 49%
CyberGhost VPN
$2.19 / month Save 83%
Private Internet Access
$2.19 / month Save 82%
NordVPN
$3.49 / month Save 71%
Surfshark
$2.30 / month Save 82%
PrivateVPN
$2.00 / month Save 83%
IPVanish VPN
$3.99 / month Save 67%
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