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Russian Historian Charged With Dismembering Girlfriend To Remain In Custody

Oleg Sokolov in court in St. Petersburg on November 9.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A court in St. Petersburg ordered a Russian historian who confessed to dismembering his student lover to remain in pretrial detention, rejecting his request to be transferred to house arrest.

The St. Petersburg City Court ruling on December 16 was the latest development in the case against Oleg Sokolov, whose killing of 24-year-old postgraduate student Anastasia Yeshchenko has captivated the Russian city.

The 63-year-old historian was detained on November 9 after being pulled out of the Moika River with a backpack containing the body parts of a young woman. Investigators later found the woman's head in his apartment.

Last month, Sokolov admitted that he killed Yeshchenko.

Sokolov's lawyer, Aleksandr Pochuyev, told the court that his client "considers that he deserves a harsh punishment" and that Sokolov's 85-year-old father is in poor health and "needs support" from his son.

Pochuyev also argued that Sokolov was working on scientific research, which Yeshchenko had assisted with, and that his client had shown remorse by offering apologies to Yeshchenko's family via the media and directly to her brother.

But the St. Petersburg court rejected those arguments and ordered him held pending trial.

A flamboyant academic who regularly dressed in Napoleon-era costumes and battle reenactments, Sokolov was once awarded France’s Legion Of Honor for his research into Napoleon.