We investigated space-time lithospheric stress patterns of the Baikal rift system according to the hierarchy of earthquakes using mechanisms of 265 KP ≥ 10 events recorded from 1950 to 1998 and seismic moments of 802 KP≥ 11 events from 1968 to 1994. The lithosphere of the region was confirmed to undergo rifting with mostly normal-slip events, while local areas of frequent strike-slip and reverse motions may record stress heterogeneity. The dominance of rifting, although being evident in the stress dynamics, is unstable, which is indicated by increase in strike-slip and reverse motions to as many as normal slip events in the latest 1980s–earliest 1990s. The lithospheric stress patterns inferred from seismic-moment data are generally consistent with those derived from the classical focal mechanism method. The suggested approach of seismic zoning according to earthquake slip geometry may provide a more reliable background for successful mitigation of seismic hazard in the region.