A murder investigation is underway after a newborn baby was found dead in a washing machine by paramedics, according to an official report.

Hairdresser Nadezhda Zavialova, 31, gave birth to her fourth child prematurely on Sunday night (local time) at her Talitsa, Sverdlovsk home, Russian authorities said.

Her husband, Denis, called for an ambulance after he found her covered in blood the following morning.

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When doctors arrived, the boy was found dead in a washing machine.

The mother, who is currently in hospital, has proclaimed her innocence and told police her baby was stillborn.

Russian authorities have already arranged an autopsy to establish the exact cause of the baby's death.

If police find Zavialova responsible, she would be set to face charges over the murder of her newborn child.

Under article 106 of the Russian Criminal Code, the charges could lead to up to five years in jail.

Nadezhda, who is well known in her town as a popular hairdresser, was described by friends as a "good mother".

Friends described Nadezhda as a hard-working and caring mother who they could not believe was capable of killing her baby in such a way. Photo / VK.com
Friends described Nadezhda as a hard-working and caring mother who they could not believe was capable of killing her baby in such a way. Photo / VK.com

She has a son from her previous marriage, and two daughters with her current husband.

Elena Firtseva, a friend of the mother, told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper: "Nadezhda is a hard-working and caring mother.

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"There was no reason to kill the baby and in such a cruel way. She told me that the child was born prematurely and was stillborn."

Another friend told local newspaper E1: "I saw her recently when she was pregnant …

"Maybe the family had some quarrels, but this was not visible. I would never think she could do this."