Yanis Polikhranidi and Mikhail Vasilyev from Moscow, Grigory Kozlov from St. Petersburg and Stanislav Kharlamov from Arkhangelsk were sentenced to four to 10 years in prison for slave trade and production of pornographic materials featuring minors, and will serve their terms in an ordinary penal colony.
The fifth convict, Yury Dontsov from Arkhangelsk, was also accused of raping minors and will serve his 12-year term in a high-security colony.
The convicts established a closed company in Arkhangelsk that invited more than 30 girls mainly from underprivileged families to work as models, but used them to produce pornography by promising them high rewards.
The youngest of the girls was six years old.
The criminals operated in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk in 2003-2004 and sold their products on pornography Web sites in Germany and the U.S. The investigation lasted for more than a year.
"Hundreds of porn discs, tapes and video equipment were seized during searches. Many victims and their parents refused to give evidence during questionings. Arkhangelsk investigators had to cooperate closely with German and U.S. police to uncover this crime," the Interior Ministry said.
The defendants refused to fully admit their guilt and said their materials were purely erotic.