This interdisciplinary study explores the idea of sustainable development in the context of one country: Russia. This work presents ‘the career’ of the idea of sustainable development at the federal level, including its practical implementations and impediments, as well as the illusions and disillusions at the local level. The dichotomy seen already in the thesis’ title acquires multiple articulations in this research of political and cultural handling of ideas of the cause of civilization, human and nature dignity in Russia. This study is particularly concerned with the gap between ideas and action. This gap takes, as a rule, the form of hypocrisy or inconsistency between decision and action. This research examines the discrepancies between international activities, national influences and circumstances and local cultures. Accordingly, I intend with this study to broaden initial ‘global’ elements of the idea of sustainable development with more local political, historical, cultural and emotional content. The study also discusses the ways in which culture and cultural crisis can influence our prospects for a sustainable future.