Russia has blocked six of the top VPNs ahead of the parliamentary elections, according to reports.
Among those affected by Russian federal agency Roskomnadzor are ExpressVPN and NordVPN, which are among the best VPNs in the world. Also blocked are IPVanish VPN, Speedify VPN, Hola! VPN, and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited.
The move is seen as the government’s effort to strengthen its hold on the internet and the information going around it. In other words, this is Putin’s attempt to win by censoring parts of the Internet with a different point of view.
The official justification for the move, provided by Roskomnadzor, is that these VPNs could be used to “access prohibited content such as child pornography, and narcotic drugs.”
NordVPN previously had a run-in with the Russian government when the VPN service chose to destroy its servers rather than give the government access when it asked. And while we don’t like when computers are destroyed, we love how NordVPN reacted in that particular situation. Otherwise, it would potentially put its users’ privacy in jeopardy.
Aside from VPNs, Russia also “has beef” with tech giants such as Google and Facebook, which at one point were fined for “failing to remove content that violated the country’s laws.”
Separately, Apple and Google have been warned that they will be held guilty for interfering with the country’s elections if they do not remove an app made by Alexey Navalny, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Early this year, the Russian government banned SpaceX’s Starlink internet in the country, warning its citizens they could face fines if they use it.
Even before, Russia wanted Apple and Google to remove the LinkedIn app from the local app stores of both companies, stating that the popular social network violates Russia’s data laws.
At this point, we can only hope that the situation will go back to normal after the elections. And that the best VPNs will yet again prove their credentials and make it harder for governments to identify when a user is connecting to a VPN. We’ll be watching this space and get back to you as soon as we have something new to add. Stay tuned.