Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, today has strengthened Internet censorship in the country. The latest wave of Internet bans prevent millions of people from accessing popular social media sites and other Internet-based services in Russia.
The ban manifests itself amid a severe political agitation between the two nations. The good news is that anyone in Ukraine who wants to continue using Russian websites can do so using a virtual private network (VPN).
The sites in question are the Vkontakte (VK.com) belonging to Russia, the search engine Yandex, Mail.ru and Odnoklassniki (OK.ru). These websites are immensely popular and are meant to be used regularly by more than half of the citizens of Ukraine. VK.com, for example, owes half of its users in Ukraine, where about 15 million people use the site.
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The new sanctions, to be imposed by local Internet service providers (ISPs), are in direct response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and continued fighting in eastern Ukraine. This war, which has been ongoing since the beginning of 2014, has killed about 10,000 people and shows no signs of cessation. It is because of this that the Poroshenko government is putting more and more sanctions on Russian companies, including this breakdown of websites belonging to Russia.
The ban is causing enormous controversy among Ukrainian Internet users, who are used to using popular Russian social media platforms. However, popular blogger Anton Hodza referred to the ban as a “fantastic opportunity” for Ukrainian technology start-ups to move and fill the vacuum.
Hodza’s opinion, however, appears to be a minority. Oksana Romanyuk, journalist for Reporters Without Borders, said she believes economic sanctions are a direct attack on the Ukrainian people. Artur Orujaliev, the nation’s information technology specialist, also condemned the decision by referring to it as a severe censorship.
Volodymyr Ariev, a deputy from Ukraine, referred to the sanction imposed in today’s decree so necessary to national security. In a Facebook commentary, he made the following statement about frustrating sanctions:
“The servers of these Russian social networks … store the personal data of Ukrainian users and information about their movements, contacts and communications.”
Even the website of the world-renowned cyber security company Kaspersky was blocked by the Ukrainian decree of today. This alone must be a huge frustration because Kaspersky is one of the best ways to deal with a WannaCrpt0r ransomware infection. Another computer security company called Dr. Web was also blocked.
A news community on the social media site VK, called Tipichnyy Kiev, has already offered advice to people who feel guilty of the ban. This community has 650,000 subscribers, and many of them complain about the sudden inability to communicate with friends, family and other contacts. Tipichnyy Kiev recommends that people move on to other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
In addition, the news community recommends that people turn to proxies in order to overcome the restrictions. For people in Ukraine who are desperate to continue using their subscriptions to social networks, the best way to use a VPN service.
Why is a VPN the best way to unlock Russian websites? (Kак разблокировать доступ к российским сайтам из Украины)
A VPN service is a technology that allows people to pretend to be in a different country. In this case, the VPN provider must have a server in Russia for the Ukrainian citizens to log on. Once connected to a VPN server, any Ukrainian citizen appears instantly with a Russian IP address and can continue to use Russian websites as before the ban.
In addition, a VPN encrypts all user data that comes and goes from a protected device. With all their figures, VPN users are safe from the prying eyes of the ISPs and the Ukrainian government – who have no way of knowing that Ukrainian citizens are bypassing the restrictions.
Best VPN to unlock VK.com
For anyone who wants to continue using Vkontakte (VK.com), Yandex or Odnoklassniki (OK.ru), a reliable and fast VPN with servers in Russia is needed. The two best options are VPNArea and ExpressVPN.
Both services are secure and have fast and reliable networks with servers located in Russia. As such, anyone in Ukraine will be able to easily unlock all Russian websites simply by subscribing and connecting to one of these world class VPNs.
Russian television channels also blocked
Frustratingly for Ukrainian citizens, the repression of Poroshenko on Russian websites also means that several Russian media and television channels are blocked. This includes Rossiya Segodnya, RBC, VGTRK and TNT. With a VPN, these streams can also be restored, giving citizens unrestricted access to watch the broadcasts they want.
Overall, the current cycle of web site bans brings the total number of Russian companies blocked with sanctions against 465. Among the banks, the airline Aeroflot, Russian helicopters and the manufacturer and exporter of one- Weapons Rosoboronexport.