Best VPN Services for Russia

It will be an understatement to say that the
internet is an important part of our lives. It is an integral part of our lives.
It is both empowering as well as binding in some ways.


An individual may use the internet to share
ideas and views, while there may be some groups who may use the internet to
poke around into the lives of others.

There happens to be a similar situation in the world’s largest country. The Russian government is trying to control the internet in the region so that it can control the lives of the citizens in some way.

One example of the government’s desire to
control the internet in the region is that you would need your passport to
access any public Wi-Fi network in Russia. The network operator will then be
storing this passport information for at least six months.

The people in the country, and a lot of them,
turned to VPN services to stop the government from violating their privacies on
the internet.

However, the government in Russia is hell-bent on taking control of the internet in
the region and came up with ways to limit
the online freedom of the citizens. These ways affected the VPN services in the
region as well.

Also check: Top Ten Overall VPN Services

This article will go through all the details of this constant cat and mouse chase between the Russian government and those who aspire for free internet in the region.

A Brief Background

Let us first give you a brief background of
the online freedom situation in the country.

One can easily say that online freedom is
non-existent in this communist nation. The country has got a lot of
restrictions which affect activities ranging from religious prayers to binge
watching on the internet.

The authoritarian governments across the
world are trying to gain full control over the cyberspace in the region as they
realize that a free and open internet can enlighten the citizens about their
rights.

Roskomnadzor is the official body of the Russian government which is responsible for introducing, implementing, and enforcing various regulations on the internet and telecommunication services on the country.

Roskomnadzor – The Russian Service for Communication, IT and Media Supervision

The country not only has mandatory data
retention laws but, the government bodies have full control over the data at
all times.

The government had made it mandatory for
the telecommunication services and ISPs to install SORM (System for Operative
Investigative Activities) devices on their servers. This would give the Russian
government full access to the activities of the users of the services.

Roskomnadzor does not allow the telecommunication services to have servers outside the country if they are providing the services within the country. This way the government also keeps physical control over the information related to the online activities of the citizens.

A lot of companies have not had a pleasant
experience in Russia because of these reasons. Linkedin got banned in the
country because they refused to share the private information of the users with
the government.

The Yarovaya law in the country imposes
various restrictions on the internet usage which includes the online services
which use data encryption to allow the government agencies to access the content
wrapped under the encryption cover.

The Russian government is also infamous for
controlling the media and other avenues of information in the country.

Internet, being a beacon of information for
users across the world, also faced the wrath of the Russian government.

Roskomnadzor started with the banning of content involving crimes against children and the hateful content which is something that all the governments should do. But sooner they started targeting foreign media outlets.

The organization started putting the
websites of these media agencies in the
blacklist, which means that the ISPs across the country were not to allow users
access to these websites.

The internet blacklist of Russia contains
the list of all the websites and services which have been banned by the Russian
government for one reason or another.

The ISPs have been prohibited to allows the
users to access these websites.

The media outlets were just the beginning, and sooner websites representing different categories on the internet came under the radar of Roskomnadzor.

Any content which was incoherent with the
ideologies of the communist government of the nation got banned, and the website containing such content ended up on the blacklist.

There are numerous websites on the Russian
blacklist, and most of them are there because the website consists of some content which does not mix well with what the Russian government
thinks.

The official body would cite various
reasons for banning even the simplest of the websites and applications in the
country. One such example is the messaging app called Telegram.

They
banned it stating that it was being used
for encouraging terrorism in the country.

The rise and fall of VPNs in Russia?

The government was shrinking the internet
in the country and by banning all kinds
of websites in the country including the
ones which stream content such as movies web series.

The situation was a nightmare for the
Russian sports fans as well as they were
deprived of the telecast of a lot of the matches played outside the
country.

This is the time when VPN services started gaining some popularity and
friction in the country.

The Russian people turned to VPN services
to counter the data retention laws in the region. This led to a situation where the VPN services saw incredible growth in the number of subscribers
in the country.

The VPN services allowed the Russian
netizens to experience a free and open internet. They now had to access to all
the content that they love on the internet and a lot more.

But the Russian government had some other
thoughts when it came to internet usage, and they intervened to spoil the party
for all the people using the VPN services.

The government introduced a few changes in
the already existing law to which made
all the VPN services illegal in the country if the services did not conform
within the government guidelines.

These government guidelines for the VPN
services were something which would defy the whole meaning of a VPN service.

The government would allow only those VPN
services to function within the country which would give the Russian
government, access to all the content stored inside the VPN servers.

The VPN services also need to store the
data related to the online activities of
the users and also comply with the
government’s blacklisting policies.

Complying with the blacklisting policies would mean that the VPN service can no longer provide access to any of
the blacklisted websites to the users.

If a VPN service follows all these
restrictions within the country, only then it will be deemed illegal in the nation.

Let us just
boil down the above few lines for you. A VPN is legal in Russia only if it
stores information related to online activities of the user, share them with
the government, and does not allow access to the geo-restricted content in the region.

This has to be the biggest joke of the century, and nothing can mock the
online freedom of citizens more than the Russian laws. Okay, maybe the Chinese
laws can, but that is a topic of discussion for a different article altogether.

In order to make sure that the citizens don’t get to know much about the VPN
services, the Russian government made it illegal, both for an organization as
well as for an individual, to the share the links for a VPN service or
advertise it.

It is
considered a criminal offense if someone
or something is found advertising a VPN service in the country. The government
imposes hefty fines on such people and
organizations.

The Russian government seems to be leaving
no stone unturned to stop the VPN services from working in the country.

The Aftermath

The situation seems very dull when it comes
to the online freedom of the citizens in Russia. But this is not the first time
in history that a government has tried to curtail the right to information of
the citizens.

There have been many such attempts by
various authoritarian governments in the past, but the citizens somehow have
always been able to find a way around the roadblocks and get what is rightfully
theirs.

Something similar seems to be going on in
Russia as well. Even though the laws pertaining
to the matters related to VPN services in the country are very strict, the Russian authorities have not
been quite vigilant with the implementation
of these laws.

When the law related to illegalizing of VPN
services on non-conformation with the
government guidelines was introduced, a
lot of the VPN serviced refused to go with the law and share the user’s
information with the authorities.

The government went on to ban a lot of
these VPN services and take control of their servers in the country. But those
were only a few of the VPN services being used
in the country.

There are still a lot of VPN services which
are functioning in the Russian cyberspace. It is not that these services have
used any illegal means to achieve the role. They just happen to be providing services in the country even before the
implementation of the law which makes VPN illegal.

The services have not gone on to surrender
their resources, and it is now up to the government to take any sort of action they deem necessary.

How to choose the best VPN for Russia

We do not intend to encourage anyone to go
against the local laws of a country and get involved in the activities which
have been prohibited by the government.

However, we also want to discuss what
should be the ideal qualities of VPN service intended for use in Russia.

Most of this discussion can be centered around the fact that any server which falls within the Russian territory can be taken into the custody by the Russian authorities at any time.

Red Square in Russia

So, ideally, the VPN service should not
have a server within the country. The
user should also try to ensure that he/she does not connect to a server within the country as it may get compromised by
the government.

The other feature which the VPN service
needs to have if it needs to provide a few servers in Russia as well is that it
should not have a strict no-logs policy.

This policy would ensure that even if the
server gets compromised or confiscated by the authorities, there won’t be any
data leakage. And the data leakage can be easily prevented if there is no data
to start with in the first place.

Reliable and robust encryption along with the use of a secure protocol, need to be the other qualities of the VPN
service. One can expect various breaching attempts in such a cyberspace, and therefore, there should be no
shortcuts when it comes to security measures on the service.

One very crucial feature that a VPN service
should have to function in a country like Russia is an internet kill switch.

A kill switch is a feature on VPN services which helps prevent the leakage of user’s
online activities on the internet. Its functioning is very simple to
understand. All it does is that it stops the internet traffic from the user’s
device if the VPN connection fails.

The implications can be severe if the data leaks on the internet
without the encryption and reaches the authorities.

Deep packet inspection is the method used
by various restrictive firewalls which detect
and stop any VPN traffic from getting
into the country.

However, there are certain proxy technologies which can
bypass these restrictive firewalls and their
deep packet inspections as well. A VPN
service which uses such proxy technologies is ideal for use in a country like
Russia as it will be able to bypass the geo restrictions very easily.

The top picks

Now that we have discussed so much about
the VPN service ideal for such a region
let us go through some of the VPN services which do exhibit the discussed
features.

Zenmate

More Info: Read Review | Visit Website

The service comes with a free 7 days trial
and have huge concentration of servers in Europe including Eastern Europe.
That’s one of the factor you may want to consider for signing up.

Apart from many former Soviet Union (USSR) server locations, three server locations are also available in Russia itself. Now that’s something strange since Russia doesn’t allow VPN and have official banned. So Zenmate probably have some ways to overcome this issue. Nevertheless, It is indeed one of the ideal option to sign up.

The service has a kill switch, and the user
can experience high-speed internet even
after he/she is using the VPN service.

ExpressVPN

More Info: Read Review | Visit Website

This VPN service is frequently ranked among the best VPN services available to users across the world. The server network is as impressive as it gets and the security on the service is second to none.

The service also offers server locations in Russian region as well as many other former Soviet Union (USSR) locations such as Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia and Armenia among others.

All the Russian location(s) according to official website supports all the platforms so as far as Security or Privacy is concerned, you can use them worry free!

NordVPN

More Info: Read Review | Visit Website

With more than five thousand server locations across the world, NordVPN offers abundant options to bypass the geo restrictions.

The special features such as double VPN and cybersec on the service make it even more appealing to the users. It can obfuscate VPN usage as well which helps in getting through the deep packet inspection of the restrictive firewalls.

24 Servers – Up and running!

NordVPN has more than 60 server locations and offers more than 5400 servers. They also offer server locations in Russia and Proximity. Since Russia is a largest country in the world, server locations within the country as well as outside matters a lot. Official website suggest there are currently 20+ servers and all of them supports all the protocols as we also have mentioned in the review.

VyprVPN

More Info: Read Review | Visit Website

As we have mentioned in our review about VyprVPN, the service comes with option to choose from nearly 200k IPs from 70 locations all over the world.

As we have mentioned earlier, Since this is
a very large nation, it requires multiple server locations within or close to
user’s location. They have servers in Russia as well as many neighboring
countries such as Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine on one side as well as Japan
and Macau on the other side. So VyprVPN can be one easiest way to unblock
censored or blocked sites.

CyberGhost

More Info: Read Review | Visit Website

The service is among the best in the field of streaming content. The user gets to binge watch his/her favorite series without the need to worry about the security on the service.

It also allows the user to have a VPN
connection simultaneously on seven
devices which gives a lot of freedom to the user when it comes to
accessibility.

Kim Martin Administrator
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