Paper aims at investigation of contemporary approaches to sustainable rural development in Russia. It includes the overview of current experiences in rural development, analysis of major economic and social indicators of rural areas in comparison with urban ones. Analysis included the set of indicators such as number of rural people, number of rural settlements, rates of births and mortalities, natural and migration increases and declines of population, rates of employment and unemployment, average monthly nominal per capita wages, and level of the subsistence minimum. Indicators have been measured separately for rural and urban areas; regions have been grouped in relation to the particular indicator. The research is concluded by discovery of growth points for rural development and a set of recommendations on perspective measures of state and local policies in rural areas, directed on increase of living standards of rural population and retention of labour resources in their traditional rural areas of inhabitation.