Russia has been suffering severe sanctions from other governments since it invaded Ukraine last week. Unfortunately, the situation for those living under Russian territory is about to get worse, as the local government has been censoring the internet. As a result, VPN apps are now among the most downloaded apps in the Russian App Store.

As reported by analyst firm AppFigures, the number of VPN app downloads in Russia has grown considerably since the conflict began on February 24. As of Tuesday, the most popular VPN apps have seen an increase of over 1,200% in the number of downloads in both the App Store and Google Play in Russia.

On March 1 alone, VPN apps registered almost half a million downloads in Russia compared to an average of 10,000 downloads per day last month. The numbers are a result of local communications regulator Roskomnadzor blocking access to multiple social networks and news websites on Russian internet providers.

With VPN apps, users can bypass some of these blocks while also surfing the web anonymously – which is important when dealing with a government that is constantly controlling what people can and cannot access.

The Russian government confirmed on Friday (via The Guardian) that it has banned Facebook and Twitter, which are no longer available there, for its citizens. While Roskomnadzor claims that the platforms were banned because they violated Russian law, the ban is clearly an attempt to censor the internet and prevent people from accessing news criticizing Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

It’s worth noting that while some reports on Twitter say that the App Store and Google Play have also been taken down in Russia, 9to5Mac was able to confirm with independent sources that both platforms are still available in the country (at least for now).

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About the Author

Filipe Espósito

Filipe Espósito is a Brazilian tech Journalist who started covering Apple news on iHelp BR with some exclusive scoops — including the reveal of the new Apple Watch Series 5 models in titanium and ceramic. He joined 9to5Mac to share even more tech news around the world.