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Demand for VPNs surges amid deadly protests in Kazakhstan

Amid massive internet censorship in Kazakhstan, citizens turned to VPNs to bypass the restriction to use messaging apps.

Thousands of angry citizens have been protesting for days now in the streets of Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan.

What started as a backlash against the energy prices now turned into a protest against social and economic disparity and the lack of democracy.The president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, dismissed the government and asked the Russia-led military alliance for help.

For days, the internet and popular messaging apps, including Telegram, Facebook, and Whatsapp, were down to stop people from gathering. The regime has also restricted access to leading media websites.

As is familiar with repressive regimes, protesters turn to social media to coordinate actions. VPNs (virtual private networks) let you hide your actual location as you browse the internet, use social media, and avoid government censorship or blocks.

Heavy internet censorship in Kazakhstan in recent days hasn't stopped people from gathering. Protesters largely turned to VPNs to bypass the restrictions and keep communicating amongst themselves.

However, finding a VPN that will work in Kazakhstan might not be the easiest task. But we’re here to help - read our list of the best VPNs for Kazakhstan and find the one that’s most suitable for you.

According to Google Trends, the search for VPNs has surged during the last seven days in Almaty and other country regions.


Protesters have also been sharing advice on the VPN to use. For example, in this thread below, journalists advise on the best VPN solutions for mobile, desktop, and laptop computers. Mainly, people have been looking for the best free VPN services, different browsers like Tor, and browser extensions to preserve anonymity and keep using the blocked services.

If you’re concerned about privacy and using the internet unnoticed, no free VPN is going to offer that kind of protection. Free VPNs tend to be much worse in encryption and log much more of what you do online. Often, they might not hesitate to sell your data to interested parties - your government or ISP.

VPN recommendations

The internet in Kazakhstan seems to be working but is unstable.

A recent analysis by ProtonVPN is a rogue gallery of authoritarian regimes. The largest surges in VPN installs over the last 18 months have been across Africa and Asia, with most linked to internet censorship and restrictions.

Belarus shut down the internet to curb the protests against new-but-old president Alexander Lukashenko as many people just didn't buy that he was re-elected fair and square.

In January 2021, as China enforced new internet restrictions on the citizens of Hong Kong that brought them more in line with the censorious Chinese regime, people turned to VPNs to freely express themselves and protest. PureVPN, previously registered in Hong Kong, has even moved to the British Virgin Islands with privacy-friendly data retention policies amid doubts that China's pressure on the city might make PureVPN a less desirable option.

Last September, Kazakhstan's parliament approved a bill requiring owners of foreign social media and messaging apps to set up offices in the country or risk being blocked as part of a campaign against cyberbullying. According to Reuters, the bill requires the owners of such apps to register with authorities and open offices in the Central Asian nation.

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