Russia is infamous when it comes to banning websites. Numerous sites with pirated content, radical ideas, critical posts, and “banned information” have already been blacklisted in the country.
Many service providers—including a few VPNs—which operate in Russia have been required to connect their servers to a government database to block such prohibited sites.
VPN providers asked to comply or face Russian VPN block
Back in March, Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor sent notices to these 10 VPN providers: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, Kaspersky, VPN Unlimited, HideMyAss!, VyprVPN, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN. These VPN companies were ordered to connect their servers to the government’s content-filtering system. They were given 30 days to respond.
Nine VPN providers already expressed their intention not to comply with the Roskomnadzor’s demand. Some VPNs went one step further, like NordVPN which already removed its Russian servers on April 1. This move means lesser endpoints for Russian users, though NordVPN said it would still offer its services through other channels.
While IPVanish managed to continue its operation even though it no longer has a physical presence in Russia—it removed its servers in 2016—it still won’t comply with the Roskomnadzor’s new demands.
The only provider that consented is Kaspersky, which is a Russian company. Kaspersky’s users will be able to visit only those websites not blacklisted by the government.
“We sent out ten notifications to VPNs. Only one of them—Kaspersky Secure Connection—connected to the registry,” said Alexander Zharov, chief of Roskomnadzor. “All the others did not answer, moreover, they wrote on their websites that they would not comply with Russian law. And the law says unequivocally if the company refuses to comply with the law—it should be blocked.”
Non-compliant VPNs and the Russian VPN block
The nine VPNs who won’t comply could face the Russian VPN block, and the Roskomnadzor seems serious in carrying out this act. Non-compliant VPNs will be blacklisted so that local ISPs can block access of Russian users to these VPNs. It is not clear, however, if the block will apply to these VPNs’ websites, their servers, or both.
It’s a good thing that NordVPN, IPVanish, and other providers decided not to comply with the Roskomnadzor’s orders. If they gave in, they would be compromising the privacy and anonymity of their users, and a VPN’s primary purpose is to provide online protection. That’s why you shouldn’t trust any VPN server that’s located within Russia, but you can trust these VPNs for Russia:
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What to do after the Russian VPN block
Even if these non-compliant providers are subjected to the Russian VPN block, there are still other options, a fact that has been acknowledged by Roskomnadzor’s chief. “These ten VPNs do not exhaust the entire list of proxy programs available to our citizens. I don’t think there will be a tragedy if they are blocked, although I feel very sorry about it,” said Zharov. Ya, I’m sure it’s eating you up inside…
If you’re searching for a capable VPN which you can use in Russia, check out our list of the best Russian VPN providers. Not only will these VPNs circumvent geo-restrictions and allow you to access censored sites, they will also protect your identity online so you can surf the Internet freely and privately.