Sunday, April 17, 2022

To Get Around Kremlin Restrictions on Internet, Ever More Russians Using VPNs

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 8 – Nearly a quarter of all Russians (23 percent) surveyed by the Levada Center say they now use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around restrictions on the Internet the Russian government has imposed. Another quarter knows about VPNs but doesn’t use them, and nearly half had not heard about them before the Levada Center asked them.

            As one might expect, those using the Internet most frequently and those in younger age cohorts were the most likely to use VPNs, and they were the most likely to know about them because Internet sites that have been blocked in Russia or fear they may be now are informing their visitors about this technology (

            These are perhaps the most important findings of a new poll which also showed that 68 percent of respondents now use the Internet daily, with increases in the share doing so in all age groups except the youngest which has already reached a saturation point and thus has little room to expand.

            The Levada Center poll also found that despite this, for the majority of Russians, television which is overwhelmingly controlled by the state remains the main source of information for the overwhelming majority of Russians. Seventy percent of Russians say that, up six percentage points since January 2021.

            Fifty-four percent of the sample now say they trust television the most; 17 percent say they trust Internet publications the most; and 15 percent say they trust social networks the most. Trust in TV has risen 10 percentage points since January 2021, while trust in Internet outlets and social media has fallen by nine percentage points.

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