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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official: 92 Criminals Executed in '97

Russia put to death 92 convicted criminals last year before the president stopped approving executions, an official said Tuesday, nearly doubling the previous government figure.

Major General Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov, head of the Interior Ministry's prisons department, also said 846 prisoners remain on death row, Interfax reported.

Russian officials previously had said 53 people were put to death before August 1996, when President Boris Yeltsin carried through on a pledge to halt executions. The government says no executions have been carried out in 1997.

Russia promised to ban the death penalty in January 1996 when it joined the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights organization. But during his hard-fought 1996 presidential campaign, Yeltsin continued to approve executions rather than appear soft on crime.

Since then, Yeltsin's moves to outlaw executions in Russia have been blocked by parliament, which is dominated by hard-liners who argue that such a step would exacerbate the country's already grave crime situation.