Investigators on Friday opened a criminal case on torture charges after footage of three teenage girls beating 10 young boys at an orphanage in Russia's Far East appeared on the Internet.
The Investigative Committee said in a statement on its website that the girls, aged between 16 and 18, had "systematically" beaten up the boys, aged between 7 and 10, in an orphanage in the Amur region village of Pionersky.
Torture charges carry a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Police raided the orphanage after a video showing the boys being beaten with a belt was posted on a local news site. In the clip, the boys are seen lined up against a wall waiting to be beaten while the older girls laugh and swear. Both the attackers and victims live in the orphanage.
On Thursday, Amur region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako temporarily suspended the school's director over the beatings. Children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov wrote on Twitter that the incident is a "powerful argument for closer control over orphanages."
Boarding school staff told local media that they had repeatedly informed directors about the girl's actions, and investigators have promised to get to the bottom of the matter.