Professor Found Carrying Body Parts Charged With Murder

Authorities say Oleg Sokolov killed, dismembered his student-turned-lover
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2019 1:36 PM CST
Historian Found Carrying Body Parts Charged With Murder
Oleg Sokolov, a history professor at St. Petersburg State University reacts as he stands in a cage waiting for a court session in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.   (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The renowned Russian historian who was found early Saturday drunk and allegedly carrying two severed human arms in his backpack has now been officially accused of murder. Police say that after rescuing 63-year-old professor Oleg Sokolov from St. Petersburg's Moika river, into which he had fallen while allegedly attempting to dispose of the remains, they found more body parts downriver and at Sokolov's apartment; ultimately the body was identified as his 24-year-old student and collaborator Anastasia Yeshchenko, who had been living with him. Russian prosecutors say Sokolov admitted shooting her and dismembering her, the BBC reports; she had been decapitated. Investigators allege she was killed Thursday, the AP reports. Sokolov claims Yeshchenko attacked him in a jealous rage before he killed her, authorities say.

Her family disputes that account; her brother says Yeshchenko called him crying just before she was killed, saying they had fought and Sokolov had beaten her. Sokolov, who sobbed and said "I repent" in court so loudly that the judge had to adjourn proceedings, has been ordered into pre-trial custody for two months. Some say Sokolov and Yeshchenko had been in a relationship for as long as five years; she co-wrote some of his research papers and took part in historical re-enactments with him, in which he played Napoleon. He is said to be obsessed with Napoleon, asking to be addressed as "Sire" and calling Yeshchenko "Josephine"; he allegedly planned to take his own life dressed as Napoleon after disposing of her body. Students at St. Petersburg State University, where he lectured but has since been dismissed, started an online petition that has gotten more than 7,500 signatures so far; they say administrators ignored complaints about him. (Read more Russia stories.)

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