March 2022 Update: Visa and Mastercard are suspending operations in Russia, so payments made using Russian-issued Visa and Mastercard cards will no longer work. Fortunately, ExpressVPN accepts payments using payment methods that are still working in Russia, including YooMoney (Yandex), Qiwi Wallet, WebMoney, Bitcoin and UnionPay! And, as the tensions between Telegram and the government persist, more and more VPNs are being blocked in Russia. In late March 2019, a report from the Kremlin said that Russian authorities have instructed Roskomnadzor, the agency in charge of supervising the online activities in Russia, to contact the leading VPN services and instruct them to either block users from certain websites or face the consequences. The vendors that received this notice are: ExpressVPN, HMA VPN, IPVanish VPN, VyprVPN, TorGuard, Kaspersky Secure Connection, OpenVPN, and Hola. So far Vypr has vowed not to cooperate with the Russian ban and continue to provide service through it’s Chameleon protocol. TorGuard was the first to remove their servers from Moscow and St. Petersburg, but are planning on setting up servers in the region to help users still connect with fast speeds. We reached out to the customer service staff at several of these VPNs and they assured us that if you can still use their service if you’re in Russia. You’ll just have to connect with a server outside the country.

The Telegram Ban

The Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked over 50 VPNs and proxies in a bid to block access to Telegram. Back in April ‘18, the Russian government requested that Apple and Google remove the encrypted messaging app Telegram since it failed to provide encryption keys to Russian agencies such as the Federal Security Service.

Telegram has since tried to evade the government by moving some of their services to alternate host servers, but it doesn’t appear to have been enough. In retaliation, Russia blocked more than 15.8 million IP addresses which in turn affected services such as gaming, retail, banking, and others. The top premium VPN providers have the ability to access almost all websites, services and apps. So as a result, the Russian government went one step further and proceeded to ban various VPNs in a bid to completely eliminate this problem, but they didn’t release which ones.

Which VPNs Work

Fortunately, VPNs are incredibly resilient and are doing their best to maintain their presence in Russia. We have tested countless VPN services to see which ones work and which don’t. Here are our recommended VPNs that you can use in Russia.

1ExpressVPN – Accepts Alternative Payment Methods

Key Features: ExpressVPN is regarded as one of the best VPNs in the world. Its strong privacy features allow you to access the internet safely when you’re traveling in Russia. Furthermore, ExpressVPN not only secures your data with an AES 256-bit encryption, but they also help you maintain complete online privacy by having a no-logging policy. ExpressVPN doesn’t store any information or activity logs that pass through their servers, this includes usernames, passwords, search history, etc. While ExpressVPN provides complete security, they also retain second-to-none speeds throughout. During tests, performance has been consistent and reliable over both long and short distances. As this VPN service is available on most platforms including Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, you’ll have no trouble accessing the Telegram messaging service while traveling anywhere in the world. Try Now Risk Free

2CyberGhost VPN

Key Features: CyberGhost VPN is a great VPN for those looking to access Telegram. They boast over 9633 servers in 91 different countries, so you can connect to a server in a different location. You can also connect 7 devices on the same account, so there are no vulnerabilities between devices if you choose to access your data on a laptop, phone, or tablet. This means that your whole family can access Telegram at the same time. CyberGhost also offers advanced security features in the guise of AES 256-bit encryption, fast speeds, and a 45-day money-back guarantee. Try Now Risk Free

3. NordVPN — Premium VPN With Cheap Prices on Long-Term Plans

Key Features: NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market — and you can get super cheap prices when you sign up for a long-term subscription. One thing to note, however, is that when it’s time to renew your subscription, prices do increase quite significantly. I did, however, have issues with using NordVPN’s native Fire TV app. Although it worked and unblocked some streaming services, it sometimes had issues unblocking Netflix US and kept crashing. I also found that NordVPN’s user interface for desktop devices was less user-friendly than ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. NordVPN has the following security and privacy features:

AES 256-bit encryption A kill switch that cuts your internet access if your connection to a VPN server drops suddenly Built-in ad and malware blocker, so you don’t need a third-party ad blocker Fully audited no-logs policy (audited by PwC) – NordVPN doesn’t store any personal or identifying data while you’re connected to the VPN

In addition, NordVPN includes Threat Protection that protects you from viruses, infected websites, and trackers – and it works whenever you have the NordVPN app open, even if you’re not connected to a VPN server. You can stream, torrent, and browse for free for up to 30 days with NordVPN’s money-back guarantee. It has plans that cost as little as $3.49 per month. To ensure that you’ll really get your money back, I tested NordVPN’s money-back guarantee. At first, the support team tried to give me an extended trial period — but they initiated my refund right away after I told them I wasn’t interested in the extension. I got my money back in 6 business days. Get NordVPN NordVPN works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire Stick, and Android TV

4. Surfshark — Best Value for Money with Unlimited Device Connections and Fast Speeds

Key Features: Surfshark offers the best value for money out of every premium VPN on the market. You can connect an unlimited number of devices with a single subscription (which means you can connect your entire family and even friends!). I tested Surfshark’s unlimited connections on 2 PCs, 2 phones, a Fire Stick 4K, and an iPad. My connection remained reliable on all 6 devices. Even while I was actively streaming on all my devices, my average speed was 112 Mbps — fast enough for UltraHD quality. When I saw the price of this service, I thought it couldn’t possibly have top-grade security features for such a low price, but I was pleasantly surprised. Surfshark has the following security and privacy features:

AES 256-bit encryption on all devices, with ChaCha encryption available for Android users Wireguard VPN protocol enabled by default Diskless, RAM-only servers to protect your privacy (no data can be physically extracted from any servers) Kill switch (although this isn’t enabled by default) IP and DNS leak protection

Surfshark offers two-factor authentication (2FA) on your account. This feature requires you to enter an extra code before you can log in to ensure that only you (and those you share your account with) can access your account. While Surfshark does have slightly fewer global servers than rivals such as CyberGhost and PIA, I didn’t experience any issues during my tests. I easily connected fast working servers every time, and I had excellent speeds for streaming Netflix in Ultra HD, downloading torrents, and browsing the internet.

You can try Surfshark for yourself with the 30-day money-back guarantee. It has plans that cost as little as $2.05. Requesting a refund is easy with Surfshark’s live chat feature. Although the support team asked why I wanted to cancel my subscription, I had no problem getting my money back (and it only took 4 days!). Get Surfshark Surfshark works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire Stick, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, Android TV, Kodi, and selected routers

Final Thought

Regardless of which VPN you choose from our list, you will be able to use the internet freely while traveling to Russia. What’s more, you’ll be able to do so in complete privacy with a secure connection. With the VPNs listed above all offering a trial period or money-back guarantee, why not try one out for yourself!

Summary: These Are the Best VPNs for Russia in 2023