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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Babies Beaten in Orphanage

Five children under the age of 3 have been badly beaten in a Krasnoyarsk orphanage, and a nurse who worked the night shift is the chief suspect, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The case comes at a time when international adoptions have slowed to a trickle due to Russian concerns about foreign parents abusing adopted children.

Prosecutors believe the nurse repeatedly struck the children in their faces during the night of July 31 at Krasnoyarsk Orphanage No. 3, said Sergei Koryakin, a spokesman for the Kirovsky district prosecutor's office in Krasnoyarsk, on Rossia television.

A criminal investigation has been opened, and prosecutors are trying to determine whether only one person abused the orphans, Koryakin said.

The children, who suffered multiple bruises, are too young to identify the abuser or abusers, he said.

The names and ages of the nurse and the children have not been disclosed. Krasnoyarsk Orphanage No. 3 cares for children aged 4 and under.

The orphanage's chief doctor, Tatyana Kogai, said in televised remarks that the nurse had been fired. If charged and convicted of abuse, she faces up to 12 months of correctional labor and a lifelong ban on working with children.

The country's ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, said Wednesday that he would personally follow the investigation and promised to send representatives to Krasnoyarsk to look into the matter. "Unfortunately, this is not the first such case. We systematically conduct checks of Russian orphanages and register similar cases," Lukin said, Interfax reported.

In June, a teacher at an orphanage in the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil was sentenced to three years in prison for systematically beating orphans.

A doctor on duty at Krasnoyarsk Orphanage No. 3 refused to comment. Calls to prosecutors went unanswered.

Authorities have tightened the screws on international adoptions after a series of deaths in the United States. Most recently, a Virginia court on May 25 sentenced Peggy Sue Hilt to 25 years in prison for punching and kicking her 2-year-old Russian daughter to death. More than a dozen children have been killed by their adoptive parents over the past decade. The Education and Science Ministry, which is responsible for all adoptions, has registered 13 cases of children that were adopted by foreigners being abused over the past year. Almost the same number of children adopted by Russians were abused over the same period, according to ministry statistics.