Russia accuses French `do-gooders` of paedophilia
Investigators from both countries have joined forces to look into the case.
“The two men seemed to be quite normal. The only thing that was strange is that the director of an orphanage proposed they stay overnight with the kids,” Evgeny, who was their translator in Arkhangelsk, said.
“These Frenchmen came here twice: last year and the year before,” he added.
The head of the orphanage where the alleged crimes took place was recently dismissed. She refused to talk to Russia Today.
The case didn't surface until this autumn, after the two men were arrested in France and charged with child abuse.
During the investigation French police found threads that lead to Arkhangelsk, but the details still remain a mystery. Last month French investigators joined their Russian counterparts in the city.
“During a combined investigation we found out that the two Frenchmen were photographing and touching naked children from an orphanage. So we started our own case on pedophilia and child abuse,” Aleksandr Koptyaev, an investigator from Arkhangelsk police, said.
Jean-Pierre Lafitte, a prosecutor, confirmed a preliminary investigation has been held in Mont-de-Marsan.
“An investigation officer has been appointed to lead this case. Currently the investigation continues. And this is all I can say for the press,” he said.
The two Frenchmen had documents stating they represented a charity foundation based in south-west France.
The organisation sends donations and gifts to the orphans of Arkhangelsk. The local administration says they've had a long and good relationship with the charity.
“So far we did not receive any comments from the charity about this child abuse case. But I don't think the foundation is somehow responsible. The two representatives and the people who exposed the children to those Frenchmen – they are really at fault,” Valery Nuromsky from Arkhangelsk region administration said.