Oleg Sokolov: Russian professor who dismembered student lover, 24, and threw body parts in river gets 12 years

The 64-year-old professor is reportedly a Napoleon fanatic and was captured from a  river where he was sitting with his 24-year-old lover's dismembered arms in a bag


                            Oleg Sokolov: Russian professor who dismembered student lover, 24, and threw body parts in river gets 12 years
Oleg Sokolov participates in a reenactment of the Borodino battle of the Patriotic War of 1812 in Russia as part of a festival celebrating the 190-year anniversary of the war (Getty Images)

On Christmas day, a prominent History professor in Russia, Oleg Sokolov, was sentenced to 12 and half years in prison for murdering and dismembering his student lover Anastasia Yeshchenko. The 64-year-old professor is reportedly a Napoleon fanatic and he was captured from a  river where he was sitting with his 24-year-old lover's dismembered arms in a bag. He was also captured on CCTV while trying to dump her body. Yeshchenko was murdered by her then lover Sokolov at his apartment in November 2019. Sokolov was pulled from the Moika River outside his St Petersburg flat after which he was detained with the bag containing the severed limbs. These limbs were later identified as Yeshchenko’s. Upon further investigation, officials found other parts of Sokolov's girlfriend at his apartment and in the river from where he was pulled.

At the trial, Sokolov confessed to shooting his lover after a quarrel. He confessed to shooting her four times with a sawn-off shotgun, then chopping up her body with a saw and kitchen knife. Media reports also suggested that he had planned on getting rid of his girlfriend's remains before taking his own life publicly after getting dressed up like Napoleon.

In court, after confessing that he did shoot his girlfriend, Sokolov said that she had tried to stab him with a knife during a row and that he only shot her to defend himself. He also blamed persecution by an academic rival for his actions. This version of events was not accepted by the court or Yeshchenko's family. 

At the trial, Judge Yulia Maximenko said that Sokolov "was aware of his actions at the time of the crime" and added that his intent to murder rose suddenly. It was also reported that Sokolov and Yeshchenko were expected to get married this year. The incident had occurred in 2019 when Sokolov had thrown a party at his luxury apartment and by shooting his girlfriend, media reports had at that time suggested, he had wrecked his own life "in several seconds".

Sokolov is reported to have been obsessed with Napoleon because according to reports he had organised Napoleonic re-enactments in the three years that he had lived with his girlfriend. He had played the part of Napoleon and he addressed his girlfriend as Josephine after Napoleon's consort. In addition, he also asked to be addressed as "Sire". 

After much delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trial began in June and also spurred many activists to protest against domestic violence. After Sokolov's arrest, an online petition with more than 7,500 signatures had accused St Petersburg State University of indifference after previous complaints from students against Sokolov were ignored and no action was taken. However, according to a report in BBC, Sokolov has been dismissed from the university and from another academic post in France since. According to Russian media reports, Yeshchenko's mother is a police lieutenant colonel and her father a school PE teacher. A lawyer from her family, Alexandra Baksheeva, said, "No jail term would bring [her] back" but that they accepted the court's decision. 

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