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Noted Russian Historian Admits To Killing, Dismembering Lover After Argument

Oleg Sokolov inside the defendants' cage at a court hearing in St. Petersburg.
Oleg Sokolov inside the defendants' cage at a court hearing in St. Petersburg.

A Russian court has detained a prominent historian for killing his lover and then taking parts of her body in a backpack to a river to dispose of them.

Oleg Sokolov, a historian at St. Petersburg State University who was once awarded France’s Legion of Honor for his research into military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, admitted his guilt in a court on November 11 as investigators painted a grisly scene of the crime.

The 63-year-old said he shot and killed Anastasia Yeshchenko, a 24-year-old postgraduate, with a rifle after the two had an argument, during which she threatened him with a knife.

"I am devastated by what has happened. I repent," Oleg Sokolov told the court, adding he lost control after she showed "a stream of aggression" he had never seen before.

The court ordered that Sokolov, who sat bowed through parts of the hearing with his head in his hands, should be held in pretrial custody for two months.

Sokolov, 63, was first held on November 9 after being pulled out of the Moika River in St. Petersburg with a backpack containing the severed body parts of a young woman.

Yeshchenko, from Russia's Krasnodar region, was a co-author of Sokolov's in joint research on Napoleon's French military rule.

Police said that during a search of the suspect’s apartment, they discovered other body parts from the victim and a saw possibly used in the incident.

Sokolov was awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest civilian decoration, in 2003 by France's then-President Jacques Chirac for his studies on Napoleon.

Sokolov in 1976 founded the first military-historical reconstruction group in the Soviet Union, and he now heads the All-Russian Military Historical Movement, which conducts reenactments of military battles during the Napoleonic Wars.