During the nineties, significant reorganization of the Russian domestic and international environmental policy took place. Together with broader opportunities for institutional innovations in the environmental sector, the specifics of changes in economic, social and political systems, and instability of their major parameters during transition imposed constraints on institutional capacity building in environmental protection. Many of the newly introduced instruments of environmental management, most of them copied from the West, were significantly modified and deformed under such impacts: they had produced non-standard outcomes, and their effectiveness appeared to be lower than predicted at the start of reforms at the beginning of 1990s. This article analyses major success and failures in environmental policy implementation in Russia during the last decade, and outlines main features in approaches of the new government to institutional reorganization. Further developments are to demonstrate to what extent it would succeed in fostering economic growth in ways that protect the environment.