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Best VPNs for Russia (to Access Free & Open Internet) in 2023

Katarina Glamoslija Katarina Glamoslija

Short on time? Here’s the best VPN for accessing content unavailable in Russia in 2023:

  • 🥇 ExpressVPN (#1 VPN in 2023) — It’s consistently able to access the free and open internet from Russia, including social media platforms and news sites. It also has high-level security, maintains blazing-fast speeds, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Accepted payment methods include YooMoney (Yandex), Qiwi wallet, WebMoney, Bitcoin, and many others.

To freely access global websites and apps from Russia, you’ll need a VPN that offers strong security features to keep your connection private, maintains fast speeds across all servers, and is able to bypass internet restrictions and censorship.

There are a lot of VPNs to choose from, but some of them don’t work as advertised — they provide insufficient security, have slow speeds, and are pretty inconsistent when trying to access restricted sites.

However, I managed to find a few VPNs that are great at consistently accessing websites around the globe — all of my top choices will allow you to safely and easily access the free and open internet from Russia.

Note: Due to recent restrictions and issues with internet access in general, you may not be able to access your favorite sites as usual while in Russia. To get around internet restrictions and censorship, I highly recommend you use a VPN with high-level security. ExpressVPN is my top choice for accessing restricted sites from Russia in 2023.

Quick summary of the best VPNs for safely accessing websites outside of Russia in 2023:

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Russia in 2023

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Russia in 2023

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for accessing the free and open internet in restrictive countries like Russia. It offers excellent security and a wide range of server options — including obfuscated servers, which are specifically designed to get past internet restrictions.

ExpressVPN also offers lightning-fast speeds. During my tests, my internet speed only dropped by around 15–20% on average, which is much better than most other VPNs. Social media and news sites loaded almost instantly, and I didn’t experience much lag or buffering when watching video content and live streams.

Aside from excellent security and fast speeds, ExpressVPN includes:

  • AES 256-bit browsing data encryption.
  • RAM-only servers.
  • Obfuscated servers.
  • Kill switch.
  • Split-tunneling.
  • No-logs policy.
  • And more…

ExpressVPN is one of the only VPNs to have RAM-only servers, which physically cannot store your data. It also has AES 256-bit encryption, which keeps your browsing traffic protected from hackers and anyone wanting to see your online activity.

And to ensure your activity is even more secure, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which states that it does not store your browsing data, original IP address, or any other private information.

ExpressVPN starts at $6.67 / month, and while it isn’t the cheapest VPN available, it’s certainly the best value (and it’s ranked #1 on our list of the best VPNs). Unlike some VPN providers, all ExpressVPN plans offer the same features, and each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN also accepts multiple payment methods, including Bitcoin, YooMoney (Yandex), Qiwi wallet, WebMoney, Paypal, and many others.

Bottom Line:

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for accessing restricted content from Russia in 2023. It is fast, secure, and able to access restricted websites 100% of the time. ExpressVPN also includes obfuscation, RAM-only servers, a strict no-logs policy, and extra security tools to ensure you’re safe online. It accepts multiple forms of payment, and all of its plans are covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try ExpressVPN Now

Read our full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Highly Secure & Easy to Use

🥈2. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Highly Secure & Easy to Use

Private Internet Access (PIA) is incredibly easy to set up and use. Both its desktop app and mobile app are intuitive, with a nice layout and a well-designed user interface. It was a breeze for me to set up PIA on all of my devices, and I was also able to easily adjust all of the settings to suit my preferences.

PIA also has very good speeds, which makes it great for streaming live content (like news reports) and accessing your favorite sites quickly. In my tests, PIA only reduced my original speed by around 20% on average, which is nearly as good as ExpressVPN.

In addition, PIA also includes the following:

  • Ability to bypass censor-heavy firewalls.
  • Ad blocker.
  • Customization options.
  • Kill switch.
  • No-logs policy.
  • DNS servers.
  • And more…

PIA includes specialist servers, including obfuscated servers, which bypass strong censorship just as well as ExpressVPN.

I also like PIA MACE, which is PIA’s ad blocker with a twist — it also protects against malicious sites. I visited multiple phishing sites and PIA blocked access to all of them. I was also surprised at how many ads PIA MACE blocked — I visited news sites that are known for having many ads on one page, and almost all ads were removed.

PIA is a very cost-effective VPN, starting at just $2.19 / month. It’s one of the best value VPNs available, and it’s a great option for both technical and non-technical users. PIA offers a 1-month, 1-year, or a 3-year plan, all of which include the exact same features. Each plan is also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Private Internet Access is one of the most easy-to-use VPNs with a great range of security features. It provides fast speeds and the ability to bypass restrictive networks. It also comes with extra internet security tools, which help protect against malicious sites and websites that spam you with ads. PIA is also one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, and all of its plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Try Private Internet Access Now

Read our full Private Internet Access Review

🥉3. Proton VPN — Advanced Security Features & Great Free Plan

🥉3. Proton VPN — Advanced Security Features & Great Free Plan

Proton VPN is a great option for users who want more advanced settings. It comes with a wide range of VPN protocols and specialist servers that can route your connection through two servers for extra security.

It also includes perfect forward secrecy, which changes your encryption key every time you connect to a new VPN server, ensuring your data is safe even if your connection is compromised. Each Proton VPN server comes equipped with full-disk encryption, meaning if the server itself becomes compromised, all data on it will be completely unreadable.

Proton VPN also includes:

  • Ad blocker.
  • Malicious site protection.
  • Dedicated streaming servers.
  • Split-tunneling.
  • Kill switch.
  • And more…

Proton VPNs isn’t as consistent at bypassing restrictive networks as ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access, but it does work the majority of the time.

But where Proton really shines is its free plan — it’s the best free VPN on the market. The free plan only includes access to 3 server locations (USA, Japan, and the Netherlands), but it also provides unlimited VPN data — most free VPNs significantly limit the data allowance. Even using the free plan, which provides “medium speeds”, I could easily access social media sites and watch videos without much buffering. And the free version also includes split-tunneling — again, something that many free VPNs don’t offer.

But to gain full access to all features, all servers, and faster speeds, you’ll need to upgrade to Proton VPN’s premium plans. The Plus plan (starting at $3.99 / month) includes fast speeds, as well as access to over 1,700 servers in 60+ countries (including specialist servers, like the dedicated streaming and P2P servers and Tor support servers) and the ad blocker. Subscriptions can be paid in cash, via PayPal, credit card, or Bitcoin. All plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Proton VPN has advanced security features that ensure your online activities remain private. It also comes with a decent range of extra features, and its free plan is the best free VPN plan on the market. While Proton VPN isn’t as consistent at bypassing restrictive networks as ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access, it still works pretty well, even on the free version. Proton VPN’s paid monthly and yearly plans are reasonably priced and come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try Proton VPN Now

Read our full Proton VPN Review

Comparison of the Best VPNs for Russia in 2023

VPN Starting Price Encryption Bypasses restrictive networks Average speed slowdown Money-back guarantee
1.🥇 ExpressVPN $6.67 / month 256-bit Yes -15% 30 days
2.🥈 Private Internet Access $2.19 / month 256-bit Yes -24% 30 days
3.🥉 Proton VPN $3.99 / month 256-bit Yes -22% 30 days

How to Choose the Best VPN for Russia in 2023:

  • Bypassing censorship. You want to look for a VPN that is able to consistently bypass network restrictions or strong firewalls that prevent you from accessing the entire internet. All of the VPNs on this list are capable of bypassing restrictions.
  • High-level security. I highly recommend a VPN that fully protects your data and online activities while you’re browsing. All of the VPN on my list include advanced security features, including high-level encryption, which secures your data.
  • Fast speeds. It’s best to choose a VPN that provides consistently fast speeds relative to your local network’s default speeds. Each VPN on this list only slows your default internet speeds slightly, enabling fast connections and a seamless browsing experience.
  • Extra features. Some VPNs include added extras that go further to protect you online. Important extra features include a kill switch (protects your data if the VPN connection drops), and internet security protections, like malicious site protection. The VPNs on this list all include some additional tools to keep you safe while accessing restricted content.
  • Good value. You want to choose a VPN that provides a good value for the price. All of the VPNs on my list offer a great range of features for a decent price, and they all come with money-back guarantees, so you can try them risk-free.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • BolehVPN: BolehVPN does provide okay speeds and decent security. However, its server network is very small, it isn’t able to consistently bypass restrictive networks, and it doesn’t have the best logging policy.
  • HMA VPN: HMA VPN is decent overall. It has good speeds and good security, but it isn’t able to bypass network restrictions or strong firewalls.
  • CactusVPN: CactusVPN is one of our top-rated VPNs, but its bypassing capabilities are temperamental, and it isn’t as fast as some other top VPN providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I access restricted social media sites using a VPN?

Yes, you can access restricted websites using a VPN. However, it may be against the rules of your home country or the policies of the website to access the site via a VPN.

All of the VPNs on my list were capable of accessing social media websites without interruption, but ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for Russia in 2023.

Russia’s laws state that VPNs must change their protocol so activity can be viewed by Russia’s federal services. The laws also state that VPN providers can’t help Russian-based users access blacklisted sites.

These laws have seemingly been ineffective, as it’s almost impossible for the Russian government to track and block VPN usage. There are some network restrictions that block VPN connections, but they don’t always work, and it’s unlikely that a VPN user would face prosecution for using a VPN.

However, that doesn’t not mean VPNs are 100% legal in Russia, and it definitely does not mean you can commit illegal activities while using a VPN in Russia.

Can I use a free VPN in Russia?

Yes and no. Yes, because there are some good free VPNs available (including Proton VPN’s free plan). But no because most free VPN can’t bypass restrictive networks, have very limited data allowances, and sometimes have sketchy security policies.

Proton VPN’s free plan is the only free VPN with unlimited data, and it comes with great security features. But the number of servers (and server locations) are very limited, and you don’t get access to the fastest server speeds.

If you’re looking for full access to a wide range of servers, fast speeds, and censorship bypassing capabilities, I highly recommend considering a premium VPN for accessing content restricted in your location.

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About the Author
Katarina Glamoslija
Katarina Glamoslija
Head Content Manager

About the Author

Katarina Glamoslija is Head Content Manager at SafetyDetectives. She has nearly a decade of experience researching, testing, and reviewing cybersecurity products and investigating best practices for online safety and data protection. Before joining SafetyDetectives, she was Content Manager and Chief Editor of several review websites, including one about antiviruses and another about VPNs. She also worked as a freelance writer and editor for tech, medical, and business publications. When she’s not a “Safety Detective”, she can be found traveling (and writing about it on her small travel blog), playing with her cats, and binge-watching crime dramas.