Yekaterina Mizulina, head of Russia’s Kremlin-linked Secure Internet Union, said on Monday that VPN services in the country would “most likely” be banned from March.
The use of VPN services, which provide services for internet users to access banned sites, has increased sharply recently.
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Russian internet users turned to VPN services to access banned social media platforms and independent news sites.
Speaking at a conference of high school students in Yekaterinburg, Mizulina said, “VPN services, especially those offered for free, are a gateway to hell. They create a big black hole in your devices.”
Asked about rumors that the Russian government will ban VPN services, Mizulina said, “Yes, this will probably happen.”
Mizulina later clarified her remarks, saying that a complete blocking of VPN services was “impossible for technical reasons” and that only the most used services would be targeted.
Mizulina argued that the authorities aimed to protect the public and the devices they use.
Last year, Russian authorities launched a campaign to warn the public about the dangers of using VPNs and warned that devices using these services could be targeted by hackers.
But experts say the anti-VPN campaign in the country is also aimed at making it harder to access independent news sources.