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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Claims of Child Abuse Investigated

Prosecutors said Thursday that they were investigating allegations that workers at a hospital taped infants' mouths shut in order to keep them from crying -- a scandal that has sparked outrage in the country.

In a separate incident that raised further concern about the ailing state of the health system, a criminal probe began at a kindergarten where an employee gave unauthorized injections to children to help them sleep.

The alleged taping incident at a hospital in Yekaterinburg has received wide coverage in the media.

In a statement posted on its web site Thursday, the Prosecutor General's Office announced that investigators had found that hospital workers on several occasions used tape or sticking plaster to shut the mouths of infants in order to silence them.

There were conflicting reports as to whether the infants were all orphans, and it was unclear whether one or several workers were involved.

Regional prosecutors were conducting a criminal investigation into possible dereliction of duty and child abuse, the statement said. It was unclear whether charges would be filed against hospital employees.

Earlier this week, television news programs broadcast footage reportedly taken with a mobile telephone that showed one sleeping baby lying in a crib with what appeared to be a pacifier plastered to its mouth.

Interfax on Tuesday reported that Yekaterinburg city health officials had reprimanded the hospital's chief doctor and its chief nurse.

Russia's health and welfare system -- from hospitals to orphanages -- fell into disrepair after the Soviet collapse as government funding dried up. Many welfare institutions remain neglected to this day, often due to corruption.