The free HighLoad VPN service was considered reliable and even got into the lists recommended by independent publications, for example, it was recommended by DOXA magazine. As the creators of the VPN told us, the service is completely anonymous, cannot be blocked and is based on ShadowSocks technology, which allows you to bypass blocking in China. HighLoad VPN worked on any devices and operating systems and did not require special skills to install. In addition, many users sent money donations to the service.
According to The village, since mid-May, the service has stopped working for most users, and screenshots of threatening messages that the creator of the service, Mikola (Nikolay) Shpilchin, sent to developer Egor Pronin appeared on the main page of the HighLoad VPN website. A service employee posted screenshots on the project’s website. Pronin claims that Shpilchin participated nominally in the work on HighLoad VPN, did not pay employees and appropriated money that came from users. Shpilchin, in turn, accused Pronin of cooperating with the special services.
Mikola Shpilchin first claimed that he paid work bills out of his own pocket, and the total amount of donations collected during the existence of the project is about a fifth of the total costs. According to Shpilchin, donations were spent on maintaining the service, and specifically on paying for VPS servers (virtual dedicated servers) needed for data transmission. Later, Mikola added that part of the donations went to help refugees from Ukraine, and he financed the VPN service from his own funds and continues to do so.
“As it turned out, our former technical employee Egor’s father is a Russian military pilot. Perhaps Egor was pressured through his parents,” Shpilchin wrote. He claims that information about Pronin’s work for the special services came to him from “confidential sources”, and that the security forces could not block the service, therefore they decided to spoil his reputation.
Now the service does not work for all users. Registration of new users is not possible. Mikola Shpilchin said that he does not expect a leak of the HighLoad VPN user database, but he cannot rule it out 100%. Since the foundation of the service, users have been advised to use a special temporary mail to register on the project’s website, and now the VPN creators are preparing a solution for registration without using email at all.