The 2010s gave rise to the power of WhatsApp, Facebook and WeChat, along with Twitter, Yahoo!, and a dozen others. People were sharing music now, and more importantly, and perhaps more dangerously, sharing ideas. IMs were great for businesses that were separated by distance, but they also began to house the darker side of the Internet. Criminals used them to communicate and buy/sell items. Predators used them to groom victims, including children. And terrorist organizations used them to plot the most devastating attacks of the last 25 years.

For some countries, the idea of allowing conversations that the government cannot be a part of online is not only controversial, but illegal. Russia is one such company and has gone to great lengths to ensure that its citizens are not using IM services to access outside resources or speak ill of the government.

Russia vs. Telegram and TamTam

Telegram is a massively popular IM app in Europe and Asia. It features end-to-end encryption functions for its messaging, which means that nobody but the sender and recipient of any message can read it.  That became a problem in Russia in 2017 when its telecommunications authority demanded the encryption keys. Telegram refused to do so and was blocked via new Russian legislature less than a year later. No person in Russia has been able to legally use Telegram since. LinkedIn met a similar fate in 2016 after it was found to be holding data about Russian clients outside of Russian servers.

Ironically, the downfall of Telegram led to an opportunity for leading Russian Internet provider Mail.Ru Group. Right before Telegram’s ban began, a new service called TamTam was advertised as the new IM service for Russia. It looked and acted eerily similar to Telegram, down to its hyperlink-shortened addresses. However, if it uses similar encryption protocol as Telegram, TamTam will follow its predecessor to an early grave. Given that Russia bans Telegram and TamTam by tracking Russian IP addresses to their websites, the only way to use Telegram and TamTam while visiting Russia is with a virtual private network (VPN).

VPNs blocked by Russia

Unlike China, however, where the entire country’s Internet is largely under control, older structures in Russia make it very tough to block VPNs, at least any located outside of Russia. This means if you are visiting Russia, your best bet is to invest in a VPN that doesn’t originate in Russia.

Top VPNs for Using TamTam in Russia

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest, most secure VPNs available – and it works in Russia. With 3000 servers in 94 countries, you don’t have to worry about overcrowded servers – plus ExpressVPN will also connect you to the fastest server for your location automatically. In addition to AES-256 security protocols (the most secure in the industry), it has a strict no-logs policy that means that your information is 100% secure. Since ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, it doesn’t have any legal requirement to share user information with governments – even if there was data to share. There’s also a network lock kill switch that means that if the VPN disconnects for any reason, your internet connection instantly shuts down, keeping your browsing anonymous. You can connect up to 5 devices at the same time, and ExpressVPN is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. Use TamTam with ExpressVPN risk-free

2. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN has some remarkable security technology up its sleeve: its own hosted servers which means no third parties are potentially tracking your information, a great lingering thought that most VPN users constantly fear. It has more than 9633 servers – so if one server is too crowded, you can switch to another. For additional security, it throws in 256-bit encryption and allows up to7 simultaneous connections. Use TamTam with CyberGhost