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A Russian academic known for his war reenactments was sentenced last week for murdering his younger lover, who a judge said he shot and dismembered before disposing of her body parts in a St. Petersburg river.
Oleg Sokolov, 64, an established academic in the military history of France and a prolific re-enactors of Napoleonic wars, confessed last year to the murder of his former student, Anastasia Yeshchenko. The now-former Saint Petersburg State University lecturer was arrested in November 2019 after he drunkenly stumbled into the Moika River while attempting to dispose of Yeshchenko’s severed arms, France 24 reported at the time.
On Friday, a St Petersburg court sentenced Sokolov to 12.5 years in prison, according to Reuters, which reported that a weapons possession charge also factored into the sentencing. Prosecutors had reportedly sought to imprison Sokolov for 15 years in the case.
The judge overseeing the trial said that Sokolov shot Yeshchenko four times with a rifle, dismembered her using a knife and saw, then took her body parts in bags to the River Moyka to dump them, Reuters reported.
Sokolov told the court that the crime was not premeditated and that he’d been driven to “a state of complete insanity” by 24-year-old postgraduate Yeshchenko, who he said had been making disparaging comments about his children, according to Reuters. The two had lived together for years, CNN reported.
At Sokolov’s home, Yeshchenko’s dismembered corpse and a bloody saw were soon uncovered, law enforcement officials told the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti, according to CNN. Prior to being arrested, the academic had planned to kill himself while dressed as Napoleon in front of tourists at a popular St. Petersburg citadel, authorities said.
Sokolov’s relationship with Yeshchenko was known on campus and described to Agence France-Presse as “an open secret,” France 24 reported.
“Everyone was fine with that; it was her own business,” Sokolov’s former student Fyodor Danilov told AFP.
While the eccentric lecturer was praised by some, according to France 24, others called him a “freak,” and described him as an alcoholic with emotional issues who encouraged Yeshchenko to call him “sire” when they dressed up in period costumes.
Sokolov had also taught at Sorbonne University in Paris and authored books on Napoleon Bonaparte, France 24 reported, and also served as a historical consultant on several films.
Yeshchenko, who had moved from the Krasnodar region in southern Russia to study in St. Petersberg, had co-authored a number of historical research papers with Sokolov, according to the BBC.
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