NEVYANSK, Russia, July 25, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Police in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia have launched an investigation after local residents found four plastic barrels with the remains of 248 unborn children strewn in a wooded ravine.

Investigators said the 50-liter containers appear to have been thrown out of a vehicle not far from a road leading to Nevyansk, a town on the slopes of the Ural Mountains, spilling their contents on the ground. Many of the fetal remains had labels attached to tiny hands or feet with names and numbers, which authorities suspect may refer to the names of the children’s mothers, and the date of their abortion or the hospital where the abortion was committed.

Some of the dates indicate the children were aborted more than ten years ago.

The mystery surrounding the source of the children’s bodies has led to conjecture by police and medical officials.

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According to police, forensic examinations showed most of the children were aborted at 22-26 weeks of pregnancy, which has led investigators to believe they are dealing with criminal activity.

Local authorities suspect the “biological waste” disposal company which services the three hospitals in Ekaterinburg, the region’s major city. “It appears a company responsible for disposal of the biomedical waste has failed to carry out its duties properly,” remark Vladimir Vlasov, deputy head of the regional government, according to TV-Novosti.

However, Lydia Lukutova of the Moscow Regional Research Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics disagreed, saying, “This case is simply impossible in normal gynecological clinics. All [aborted] fetuses must be disposed of immediately. I wouldn’t rule out some sort of criminal activity.”

Lukutova pointed out that aborted fetal remains are considered Class B biological waste and required by law to be incinerated.

Gynecologist Yuliana Abaeva said the fetal remains may have been intended to serve as the source of vaccines or for cosmetics. “It could be unused abortive material for vaccines or fetal therapy, which is a cell therapy, extremely popular in cosmetology,” she said in a report by Russian News Service.

Elena Mizulina, head of the State Duma Committee on Issues of Family, Women and Children, said she believes this incident is a case of mass illegal abortions, which are widespread in the country, and that the bodies may have been intended for the illegal trade in fetal tissue.

“Such abortions are illegal,” she told Izvestia news service, “because they are performed at stages when it’s dangerous for the mother, and is the murder of a rather developed human being. What were found in those containers are not embryos – they are killed unborn human beings.”

Russian law allows abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy, prohibiting it in later stages unless doctors determine it is necessary to save the mother’s life. However, health officials are aware that high numbers of illegal abortions - as many as several million - are committed every year in Russia.

Mizulina stated that she believes the means of disposal itself – in a forest in the Ural Mountains, and not in a proper facility – shows the criminal intent of whoever was involved in this act, because fetuses at this stage of development are especially valued by pharmacologists and cosmetologists.

“The demand for such ‘material’ is huge,” Mizulina remarked.

“This is probably an attempt to cover up a criminal activity. Whoever did this might have been expecting a visit from medical or law enforcement inspectors and wanted to get rid of incriminating evidence,” Mizulina said.

“I think that soon we will find out who has dropped the fetuses and all the guilty will be punished,” Vladimir Vlasov told Russian media.