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How to Unblock Instagram in Russia in 2022: Avoid the Russian Ban

The Russian government has blocked Instagram, leaving over 80 million Russian people in the lurch. In this guide, we'll show you our three best VPNs for Instagram in the country, and you’ll find a handy step-by-step guide to help you set up any VPN provider.

Wisdom Sablah
By Wisdom Sablah (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-11-08T20:55:10+00:00

If you’re wondering how to unblock Instagram in Russia, you’re reading the right article. Since launching an all-out assault against Ukraine, Russia has been keeping a tight rein on social media and independent news sites in the country. By March 14, 2022, Instagram had been banned, leaving over 80 million Russian Instagrammers reeling and searching for workarounds.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Russian government has blocked Instagram as part of its move to control the narrative about the Russo-Ukrainian war.
  • A VPN can help you bypass Russian internet censorship and geoblocks so you can enjoy all the features of Instagram.
  • ExpressVPN is the best VPN for unblocking Instagram in Russia, thanks to its speed and robust encryption features, but NordVPN and CyberGhost are cheaper yet reliable alternatives.

Thankfully, a virtual private network (VPN) can spoof your location and give you access to Instagram, while avoiding detection from the Roskomnadzor — the Russian media watchdog. With every VPN service claiming to be the silver bullet, it’s hard to know which one works best in Russia. 

We’ve done the legwork for you. In this article, you’ll discover the three finest VPNs for Instagram in Russia, based on our research and testing. However, we’ll start by showing you how to set up an Instagram VPN service from scratch. If you’re in a hurry, ExpressVPN is our top pick because of its speeds and excellent security features. 

  • Instagram is currently banned in Russia, but you can bypass Russian censorship geoblocks and access the full features of Instagram with a virtual private network (VPN). In our book, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for that purpose, but NordVPN and CyberGhost are cheaper alternatives.

  • A VPN can spoof your location to help you bypass censorship and access Instagram. However, not all VPNs unblock Instagram effectively. The best Instagram VPNs have a large collection of servers, strong security features and fast download speeds.

  • Using a VPN in Russia is legal, but the government frowns on using VPNs to access blocked content; it has banned several VPNs for refusing to comply with their laws. Most of those VPNs have moved their servers out of Russia, but you can still access servers in other countries. However, double-check to ensure you’re not breaking any laws while using specific VPNs.

How to Unblock Instagram in Russia With a VPN

Although it may seem daunting, installing and setting up a VPN is easy. Below are three simple steps to follow to get your VPN up and running. Note that you can follow similar steps with other VPN providers. 

  1. Sign Up and Download the Service

    Go to the VPN provider’s website and click on “get ExpressVPN” (or the “Купить ExpressVPN” button in Russian). You’ll be asked to choose a plan and a payment method. Next, download and install the VPN on your device of choice.

    expressvpn home page
  2. Choose a VPN Server

    Once you’ve installed the app, go through the server list and choose your preferred location; we recommend servers in countries close to Russia that have no internet restrictions. Most VPNs offer a “quick connect” button to make the process faster.

    Choose an ExpressVPN server
  3. Log In to Your Instagram Account

    Log in to Instagram and you’ll notice that you can enjoy the full features of the app without hassle.

    Instagram app

Why Do You Need to Unblock Instagram in Russia?

Owing to the Instagram ban in Russia, many bloggers, influencers and entrepreneurs have lost their following, connections and revenue in one fell swoop. Some former Instagram users are pivoting to other platforms like Telegram and Clubhouse, but nothing can quite replace the photo-sharing platform. Besides, building a following often takes months.

According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, around 80% of Russian Instagram users follow an Instagram account outside their country, meaning that the ban will effectively shut out Russians from the rest of the world. Although Russia is launching an Instagram clone known as Rossgram, there’s no guarantee that it will succeed or be free from Kremlin manipulation.

Instagram Russia Ban & Ukraine

The Instagram ban in Russia was a long time coming, as Russia had been at odds with Instagram’s parent company, Meta. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Meta’s algorithmic changes to allow calls for violence against Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Meta explained that the change was made to allow people in Ukraine to speak out against the war.

Russian authorities responded by labeling Meta as an extremist organization and banning both Instagram and Facebook under their extremism law, although WhatsApp still works fine. Other censored websites include Twitter, Google and TikTok.

To learn about accessing social media in Russia, check our guide on how to unblock social media, how to unblock Twitter and how to unblock Facebook in Russia.

What Is the Best VPN to Unblock Instagram in Russia?

A good VPN for unblocking Instagram in Russia must be fast, secure and have a collection of servers in countries close to Russia. All the VPNs on this list check those boxes to varying degrees and they also have apps for various platforms, whether you’re using a phone, laptop, tablet or router. 

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn home page
ExpressVPN has excellent speeds and security features to access Instagram in Russia.

Fast, secure and easy to use, it’s no surprise that ExpressVPN tops our best VPNs listing. Its X factor is that it provides fast download and upload speeds, making it the perfect choice for scrolling through feeds or uploading pictures and updating your Instagram stories. You can browse Instagram even faster with the Lightway protocol, as our ExpressVPN review shows.

ExpressVPN is not lacking in security features either. You’ll get AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection and perfect forward secrecy, and you can connect up to five devices at once. No wonder it tops our best VPN for Russia guide. ExpressVPN’s main drawback is that it’s expensive, but all things considered, it’s worth the investment

2. NordVPN

NordVPN homepage
NordVPN’s long-term plans are cheaper than the monthly plan.

If ExpressVPN’s price tag is off-putting to you, then NordVPN is worth a shot. Although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, you get excellent speeds alongside a trove of security features. Its server collection (5,400 servers in 60 countries) is also not as extensive as ExpressVPN’s, but there are a handful of servers in countries close to Russia, including Latvia, Poland and Finland. 

In terms of security, NordVPN more than holds its own. Aside from the standard AES-256 encryption and a kill switch, you get crucial features like double VPN servers, threat protection, Onion over VPN and obfuscated servers to conceal your Instagram use from prying Russian servers so you can enjoy internet freedom. Learn more in our NordVPN review

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost homepage
Each of CyberGhost’s plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee. 

If you love a bargain, you’ll find CyberGhost hard to resist. It offers some of the best long-term VPN pricing we’ve seen, but you still get a slew of security features, from a kill switch to leak protection. This VPN provider is a great choice for beginners since it’s extremely easy to use, and you can connect up to seven devices simultaneously. 

Remarkably, CyberGhost operates over 7,900 servers in 91 countries and you’ll find servers in countries like Belarus, Estonia and Kazakhstan, making it great for Russian geoblocking. There are also “NoSpy” servers located in a privacy-friendly country to ensure Russia can’t track your Instagram use. Learn more in our CyberGhost review or use the 45-day money-back guarantee to test it.

Can I Use a Free VPN to Unblock Instagram?

A free VPN can give you access to Instagram, but there are a few concerns to note. First of all, free VPNs might log your data and sell it to advertisers. Because of a lack of a strict no-logs policy, your Instagram data could be made available to Russian authorities. Also, you’re likely to be bombarded with ads and malware while using a free VPN to access Instagram. 

In addition, free VPNs come with data caps and bandwidth limits, meaning you might experience lags and buffering while using Instagram. That said, if you have no option but to use a free VPN, consider either Windscribe or ProtonVPN. Windscribe gives you 10GB free, while ProtonVPN is the only VPN in our best free VPN review with unlimited data, though it limits your speed. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see from our review, ExpressVPN is the best provider for using Instagram in Russia, thanks to its collection of servers close to Russia, fast internet connection speeds and an excellent suite of security features. 

NordVPN is also a worthy contender, packing an impressive array of features and servers to help you enjoy internet freedom in Russia. Besides Instagram, NordVPN is our best VPN for Telegram and a great option for other social media platforms. There’s no telling when Russia will lift the ban, and that’s why a cheap, long-term alternative like CyberGhost could be a good investment

Have you tried unblocking Instagram in Russia? Which VPNs did you try, and how was the experience? Would you like to see any other VPNs featured on this list? Share your thoughts with us below. As always, thanks for reading. 

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