A famed Russian historian who loved to dress up as his hero, Napoleon, is facing a murder charge after police fished him out of the Moika River with a backpack filled with a woman’s severed arms.
A lawyer for Oleg Sokolov says he has confessed to killing his lover and is cooperating with police.
The attorney describes his client as elderly and someone who may have been emotionally disturbed and under stress. He was taken in for questioning after spending Saturday night being treated for hypothermia.
Police have identified the victim as Anastasia Yeshchenko, one of Sokolov’s students who collaborated on his writings about Napoleon. They found the rest of her hacked-up body in Sokolov’s St. Petersburg apartment, close to where he was pulled out of the river.
Initial reports say Sokolov allegedly shot her in a rage Thursday night and kept her body concealed from guests for two days before he apparently tried to get rid of her body parts.
It is unclear if he jumped into the icy Moika River in a suicide attempt or fell in while drunk when he tried to dispose of the backpack.
Sokolov’s students describe him as an odd and eccentric teacher who liked dressing up as Napoleon and re-enacting the French emperor’s battles on horseback.
Others say he was insulting, sometimes physically abusive to students, and an alcoholic who would holler in French.
They also accuse St. Petersburg State University of doing nothing to rein in Sokolov, but say are shocked at the allegation he killed a lover.
Sokolov was highly regarded in Russian academic circles and in 2003 was awarded the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian honor.