Whitehouse stands one stroke clear of five players tied for second place at 5-under-par 67, including countryman and two-time Russian Open champion Iain Pyman. The others are Spain's Jesus Maria Arruti, Scotland's David Drysdale and Mikael Lundberg and Fredrik Widmark of Sweden.
Ben Mason and Shaun P. Webster of England, Spain's Jose Manuel Carriles and Welshman Craig Williams are one stroke further back in a tie for seventh place.
This tournament is the third dual-ranking event of the 2005 season for the European and Challenge Tours. And with the PGA Championship being played eight time zones away, no player ranked in the Order of Merit's top-100 is in the field.
Whitehouse, who is looking for his first European Tour victory, dropped in seven birdies with just one bogey during a round dampened by rainy conditions and made tougher by a wrist injury he suffered while sleeping Wednesday night.
'I woke up this morning with a lot of pain on the inside of my wrist,' said Whitehouse. 'I put some ice on it this morning and it really hurt, but I just gritted my teeth for the first nine to be honest and it kind of eased off as I went round.
'I could still feel it and I hit some strange shots, but the sore wrist made it easier to take because you can just blame the sore wrist rather than thinking that you have made a bad swing.'
Whitehouse has a friend in pain in reigning European Tour Golfer of the Month Colin Montgomerie, who shook off a wrist injury to join the field at the PGA Championship.
'It's funny because I was watching Colin Montgomerie getting grilled by the American press about the fact he hadn't hit a shot out of the rough before playing in the U.S. PGA today,' said Whitehouse. 'But I think he's right to do so because it really hurts playing out of the rough when you have a wrist injury. I can vouch for that.'
Showing no ill-effects, Whitehouse moved to minus-2 with birdies at the par-5 second and par-3 fourth at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club, Russia's only 18-hole golf course. He dropped a shot at No. 6, but made the turn at 2 under after a birdie at the seventh and consecutive pars at eight and nine.
The 25-year-old Briton dropped in another birdie at the par-4 10th, one of four birdies on his back-nine. The others came at Nos. 12, 14 and 15, moving him to minus-6 on the day.
The two-time champion Pyman played 4-under-par on the front-nine, getting his round off to a good start with an eagle at the par-5 second and three more birdies before the turn.
'I think when you have won at a certain place, you are automatically confident about the course and playing the tournament,' said Pyman, whose round of 67 came despite three bogeys. 'Also, I have been playing well for the past month or so anyway. I've been in the top-ten at the last two Challenge Tour events, so it was a case of coming here and trying to keep that going.'
Sharing 11th place at 3-under-par 69 are Ireland's Stephen Browne, France's Bertrand Cornut, England's David Dixon, Denmark's Jeppe Huldahl and Hernan Rey of Argentina. Thirteen golfers are tied for 16th place one stroke further back.