The Best VPNs for Russia 2024

Only government-approved VPNs are legal in Russia, but we believe everyone has the right to privacy. That said, here’s why ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost are the best VPNs to use in Russia.
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Best for Hiding VPN Usage

4.6
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On ExpressVPN's website

ExpressVPN
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Best for Low Price

4.9
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On Surfshark's website

Surfshark
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Best for Russian-Optimized Servers

4.6
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On CyberGhost's website

CyberGhost
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Many VPNs are banned in Russia, so you should be cautious before using one there. But if you’re interested in using a VPN while inside Russian borders, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost are among our top recommendations. ExpressVPN’s advanced obfuscation technology allows you to browse with more assurance you won’t be flagged as using a VPN. Surfshark still works within Russia as of right now and is the most cost-effective option when it comes to VPNs. And CyberGhost uses optimized P2P Russian servers, which help you to torrent anonymously.

While there are some free options like Privado VPN that may work, we encourage you to use a paid service. Subscription VPNs like the ones we’ve listed provide more security than free options. In fact, you’ll see all the features and protections in place in our breakdown.

Because of the volatile nature of the Russian government, lists of banned software and websites, including VPNs, can change quickly. This guide is meant as a “best practice” for the current climate. Always exercise caution when utilizing illegal software, as the threat of jail time is genuine.

In this article
Russia's stance on VPN use
The best VPNs for Russia 2024
ExpressVPN: Best for hiding VPN usage
Surfshark: Best price
CyberGhost: Best for Russian-optimized servers
Honorable mentions
Best VPNs for Russia FAQs
Bottom line: The best Russian VPN services

Russia's stance on VPN use

If you’re in Russia and want to use a virtual private network (VPN) to access content, you must be cautious because Moscow is watching. In 2017, President Putin signed a law banning specific VPNs in Russia under the premise that VPNs circumvent online censorship and mask online activities.[1]

The Russian government has used that law to enact broader technology restrictions, including most VPN services. VPN usage has increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent broadcasting of current events on social media sites. We believe everyone has the right to privacy, but rights and laws often conflict.

The best VPNs for Russia 2024

ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost VPN connections can help circumvent the internet censorship happening in the country. You'll have many security features including AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, and lots of VPN server locations. These VPN providers are some of the fastest VPNs on the market because their large server networks aid with fast speeds.

3 best Russia VPN services compared

VPN
ExpressVPN

Surfshark

CyberGhost
Starting price Starts at $6.67/mo Starts at $1.99/mo Starts at $2.19/mo
Number of servers Servers in 105 countries 3,200+ in 100 countries 10,400+ in 100 countries
Streaming support Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more
Learn more Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review
Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review
Get CyberGhost
Read CyberGhost Review

ExpressVPN: Best for hiding VPN usage

4.6
Save 49% on 12 months + 3 months free
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On ExpressVPN's website

ExpressVPN
  • Premium VPN offering strong security and ultra-fast speeds
  • Strict no-logs policy with independent audit
  • In-house Lightway protocol for more speed and security
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Who it’s best for

ExpressVPN is best for anyone looking to hide the fact they’re using a VPN. VPN usage in Russia is increasing as the government tightens its grip on what information is allowed in and out of the country. Using a VPN at all is usually considered illegal in Russia, so using a VPN like ExpressVPN that can hide that it's a VPN can be helpful.

You can find the ExpressVPN kill switch feature under the Options menu and in the General tab. You can turn it on in the Network Lock section.

What we liked

ExpressVPN is powerful. Not only does it have a multitude of features like a kill switch that would be essential for use in a volatile place like Russia, but it also includes Threat Manager, which helps stop the apps on your devices from tracking you. Add this to its audited no-logs policy and you have a lot of privacy at your fingertips.

Something else we liked is that ExpressVPN is compatible with a multitude of devices, so you can ensure you have a VPN app on your Windows PC, Android, router, and other devices. You won’t need to worry about speed on those devices either as ExpressVPN is notoriously fast thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol.

What we didn’t like

The only qualm we really have with ExpressVPN is price. It’s one of the more expensive VPN options. It's one-year plan costs $6.67/mo, which is about double the price of Surfshark and CyberGhost. 

If you’re really concerned about your privacy, however, it’s worth the cost. All of the protection features combined lead you to a truly private browsing experience. And, on a positive note, it accepts more anonymous payment methods like bitcoin, ethereum, and XRP, and it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

ExpressVPN specs

Price range $6.67–$12.95/mo
Free version No
Number of servers Unknown number of servers in 105 countries
Number of connected devices Up to 8
VPN protocol Lightway, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, & more
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters British Virgin Islands
Kill switch Yes
Split tunneling Yes
Streaming support Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN, itv Player, Discovery+, and more
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Surfshark: Best price

4.9
Limited-time offer: 82% off + 4 months free
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On Surfshark's website

Surfshark
  • VPN technology offering stability and speed
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Works with Netflix and other streaming services
  • Headquarters in Nine Eyes Alliance

Who it’s best for

Anyone who’s looking for a VPN for privacy but has a tight budget should consider Surfshark. Surfshark is amazing if you're looking for privacy balanced with cost efficiency. It even includes tools to protect your identity.

Surfshark VPN offers multihop, or double VPN, servers for an extra layer of encryption.

What we liked

There are a lot of features included with a Surfshark subscription. Not only do you get a great VPN, but you get identity protection features as well.

Surfshark also includes CleanWeb, an ad blocker that can also block trackers and malware. And Surfshark One plans include antivirus protection which can thwart malware attacks.

Surfshark also has plenty of payment options. As sanctions tighten in Russia, paying for goods and services is becoming more difficult. Being able to use crypto, credit cards, and other forms of payment means a higher likelihood of actually being able to purchase it safely.

What we didn’t like

Pricing for Surfshark One and Surfshark One+ can get expensive. If you’re only looking for a VPN with lots of safety features, the standalone Surfshark VPN is one of the least expensive. If you want additions like cybersecurity software and identity protection, you’ll end up paying more.

Surfshark specs

Price range $1.99–$19.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 3,200+ in 100 countries
Number of connected devices Unlimited
VPN protocol WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters The Netherlands
Kill switch Yes
Split tunneling Yes
Streaming support Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, DAZN, YLE Areena, AbemaTV, and more
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review

CyberGhost: Best for Russian-optimized servers

4.6
Save 84% on 2 years + 4 months free
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On CyberGhost's website

CyberGhost
  • Cheaper than ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark
  • Optimized servers for regional streaming
  • No split tunneling feature

Who it’s best for

CyberGhost is great for someone who wants a Russian IP address that doesn’t comply with Russian control. CyberGhost has over 60 Russian-optimized servers, so you can hide while also staying secure. It even allows you to customize your level of privacy.

A list of CyberGhost's secured servers in its Romania headquarters

CyberGhost NoSpy servers


What we liked

CyberGhost is committed to internet freedom. This VPN is extremely serious about unrestricted internet access and the ability to bypass censorship. In fact, it’s so emphatic about its stance on privacy, CyberGhost has an entire page on its site dedicated to open and free internet usage.

We aren’t sure how it’s able to operate its servers in Russia without having to comply with reporting requirements, but we guess it’s this deep commitment to privacy that keeps them operational.

In addition to its commitment to privacy, CyberGhost makes itself available on a variety of devices. You can protect your computer and phone, sure, but you also can connect your router, TV, gaming console, and more, so you’re still able to enjoy shows you love since it also unblocks Netflix and other streaming services. We also love the option to use Romanian-hosted no-spy servers for speed, stability, and increased security.

What we didn’t like

The customer support experience took longer than we’ve experienced with other VPNs. It took 10 minutes to connect with an agent via live chat, then it took one to three minutes between responses. It was time-consuming, and we were encouraged to check the online guides rather than have the rep provide a personalized experience.

CyberGhost specs

Price range $2.19–$12.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 10,400+ servesr in 100 countries
Number of connected devices 7
VPN protocol OpenVPN, IKev2, WireGuard
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters Romania
Kill switch Yes
Split tunneling Yes
Streaming support Yes — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, Discovery+, Crunchyroll, AppleTV, and more
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get CyberGhost
Read CyberGhost Review

Honorable mentions

If you’re going to use a service where it is illegal, you might as well have one of the best, right? If the three options we suggested don’t work for you, these three other VPNs might.

It’s important to make sure you’re using a VPN with a variety of payment options, a kill switch, and strong encryption. These three honorable mentions have that and more.

  • Private Internet Access (PIA): PIA has high-speed servers in 91 countries worldwide. It also accepts a variety of payments, which is useful in sanctioned Russia. If the fact that it's headquartered in the United States (and therefore within the 5 Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance) doesn’t bother you, this may be a good choice.

    Get PIA | Read Our PIA Review
  • Proton VPN: Proton VPN has a lot of security features similar to its competitors. Its “Secure Core” feature is similar to other VPNs’ double VPN feature and allows you to route traffic through more than one VPN server. It also offers Tor over VPN servers, so you can access hidden services for extra privacy.

    Read Our Proton VPN Review
  • IPVanish: IPVanish is another unlimited VPN that allows you to connect to every device you can. Its zero-logs policy and five protocol options are all great for security. What we really like, though, is the ability to unblock the Telegram messaging app, which has been tested with success in Russia.

    Read Our IPVanish Review

Best VPNs for Russia FAQs


+

Which VPN is best for Russia?

There is no one “best VPN service” for use in Russia. All VPN usage comes with a risk. ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost all have advanced features and protocols that minimize the risk. This doesn’t mean you eliminate it completely, but you have a better shot with one of these.


+

What’s the best free VPN for Russia?

As far as free VPNs go, we’re partial to Privado VPN. It has a strict no-logs policy and also allows for 10 GB of data per month. In our testing, we found Privado to run without a noticeable slowdown in service.


+

Is NordVPN working in Russia?

There are no NordVPN servers in Russia. We found Reddit posts from February 2023 posted by people in Russia.[2] Apparently, their NordVPN subscriptions weren’t working, and no amount of troubleshooting would fix the issue. There’s no evidence to support this has changed.


+

Is it legal to use a VPN in Russia?

Basically, no, it's not legal to use a VPN in Russia. The Russian government has a few approved VPNs, but we couldn’t find a definitive list, and any company wanting to do business in Russia has to accept Russia’s reporting criteria. This defeats the purpose of a VPN, and many services have pulled their servers from the country.

Bottom line: The best Russian VPN services

The best VPNs mask your internet traffic from your internet service provider (ISP) and offer plenty of privacy features. Not everyone wants to access restricted content like BBC News or social media platforms, but even using a VPN for privacy can be seen as suspicious. If you’re just looking for security on Wi-Fi connections, fast connection speeds, or unlimited bandwidth to go with a reliable VPN, you’ll still need to be careful.

If you’re in Russia and willing to flout the laws that outlaw VPN usage, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost are some of the strongest VPNs you can use inside its borders. With their commitments to privacy and additional features to help keep you hidden, they’re being used effectively in the country, even under the bans. But even with the extra protections these services offer, nothing is infallible, and we suggest using it with caution.

3 best VPNs for Russia 2024

Starting price Best for Learn more

ExpressVPN
Starts at $6.67/mo Best for hiding VPN usage Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Surfshark
Starts at $1.99/mo Best price Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark Review

CyberGhost
Starts at $2.19/mo Best for Russian-optimized servers Get CyberGhost
Read CyberGhost Review
4.6
Save 49% on 12 months + 3 months free
Learn More
On ExpressVPN's website

ExpressVPN
  • Premium VPN offering strong security and ultra-fast speeds
  • Strict no-logs policy with independent audit
  • In-house Lightway protocol for more speed and security
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost
Author Details
Mary lives in Los Angeles and has been a cybersecurity writer for over five years. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, her career in online security began in sales and content creation for a private cybersecurity firm.

Citations

[1] Putin Bans VPNs to Stop Russians Accessing Prohibited Websites

[2] NordVPN Dead in Russia?