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Russian Historian Charged With Murdering, Dismembering Girlfriend Pleads Guilty

Historian Oleg Sokolov attends a court hearing in St. Petersburg on October 12.
Historian Oleg Sokolov attends a court hearing in St. Petersburg on October 12.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A Russian historian charged with murdering and dismembering his student lover has pleaded guilty at the resumption of his trial in the city of St. Petersburg.

In answering questions in the courtroom on October 12 about whether he is pleading guilty to charges of murder and the illegal possession of a weapon, Oleg Sokolov replied "yes."

Earlier in June, the defendant said he would "answer this question after the accusing side presents all of its evidence."

During an investigation of the case, Sokolov admitted to killing and dismembering his lover, 24-year-old postgraduate student Anastasia Yeshchenko, a crime that has captivated Russia's second-largest city since November 2019.

The high-profile case has been adjourned or postponed several times in recent months for various reasons, including restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The 64-year-old historian was detained on November 9, 2019, 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.

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

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