The main theme of the Russian Federation's fourth NHDR is regional and social inequality regarding human development. For the first time the report contains a chapter on the state of the environment, describes the differences in social conditions between various types of settlements and analyses the role of territorial factors in sustaining and furthering human development. The report presents a detailed analysis of the main trends in human development in Russia, followed by an in-depth study of the regional differences in the conditions for human development. Particular attention is paid to the "horizontal" and "vertical" fragmentation apparent in Russian society in the 1990s and an assessment is made of the factors and means of overcoming these inequalities. In particular, the report discusses differing conceptions of the role and function of the state in resolving socioeconomic problems. The central message of the report is that government policy must be people-oriented, particularly in times of crisis such as now, when the country is facing growing poverty, unequal income distribution and social exclusion.