The new law is intended to prevent access to websites banned by the Russian government and it has already been approved by Duma, the lower house of parliament.
VPNs and other technologies, known as anonymous proxies, allow people to surf the web without being identified.
Leonid Levin, the head of Duma’s information policy committee, said the law is not intended to impose restrictions on law-abiding citizens but is meant only to block access to “unlawful content”.
The law will go into effect on November 1.
Johann Bihr, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said: “If they take effect, these bills will drive one of the last nails into the coffin of internet freedom in Russia.
“By seeking to perfect Russia’s mechanisms of digital censorship and surveillance, these bills trample on the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Journalists and freedom of speech campaigners have hit out at the Kremlin as they believe president Putin is ridding Russia of the last vestiges of freedom in a communist China-style crackdown which would have been seen in the Soviet Union if the internet had been in use.
It follows a move by Apple to pull VPN apps from its Chinese app store.
In a letter, the technology powerhouse said the apps included “content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines”.
VPNs are popular in China, allowing users to get around the country’s internet filter dubbed the Great Firewall.
It blocks access from sites including Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, and more.
Apple said: “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.
“These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”
China has requested that its three big telephone carriers block access to VPNs by February 2018 in a campaign aimed at “cleaning and standardising” access to the internet.
A VPN developer told ExpressVPN:…