The Azzurri were never threatened after securing a try bonus point in just 22 minutes as they went on to record their highest score in a World Cup match.
Italy, who led 38-7 at the break, registered scores through Sergio Parisse, Giulio Toniolatti (2), Tommaso Benvenuti (2), Edoardo Gori, Luke McLean, Alessandro Zanni and a penalty try, with fly-half Riccardo Bocchino, who limped off injured late on, adding four conversions.
Russia were much improved after the break, with Alexander Yanyshkin, Vladimir Ostroushko and Alexey Makovetskiy crossing for their first tries in a World Cup.
And it was those three Russian tries that were of most concern to number eight Parisse, with games against the United States and Ireland to come.
"Russia were a very tough opposition, we are very happy to have the victory, we will take the five points as it was very important for us if we are have a chance to qualify (for the quarter-finals)," he told ITV4.
"Russia played a very physical game, they scored three tries which is good for them, we are happy with the win but we must continue to improve.
"In defence we made a couple of mistakes, we scored some tries and we can take confidence in our attack system but we must train hard because the USA will be a really tough game and obviously Ireland in the final game will be really, really hard."
Coach Nick Mallett added: "I thought we started very well and then we got a bit loose, but give Russia credit as they played some nice attacking rugby.
"This was a nervous game for us, we needed to get five points as we need to go into the Irish game with a good shot. We haven't often played sides below us in the rankings but I am very pleased we came through."
Russia technical director Kingsley Jones was pleased with his side's second-half display but felt they had "self-destructed" early on.
He said: "We finished strong and the second-half result was good, but we self-destructed a bit in the first 10 minutes. Our discipline in defence and at the breakdown was not good and we let ourselves down at times, but I am pleased with how we fought back in the second half."
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