Petersburg Professor Murders Former Student, Attempts to Dump Remains in River

Clay Curtis
November 10, 2019

Officials from the St. Petersburg department of Russia's Investigative Committee have said that a suspect in the case who was born in 1956 was rescued from a river in the city on the morning of November 9 with a backpack containing the severed arms of a young woman.

According to Russian-based media reports, investigators discovered human female arms and a gun in the backpack belonging to the man, who was later identified as a well-known professor and French history expert at a prestigious university in St. Petersburg, who dealt primarily with the Napoleonic age.

Russian police say Sokolov's alleged victim may be a postgraduate student of his named Anastasia Eshchenko from Russia's Krasnodar region.

"He has admitted his guilt", Sokolov's lawyer Alexander Pochuev told AFP, adding he regretted what he had done and was cooperating. The man was taken to a local hospital for hypothermia, and police quickly launched a criminal investigation after looking inside the bag.

Sokolov reportedly told police that he killed his lover during an argument and then sawed off her head, arms and legs, the BBC reported.

Students described him as both a talented lecturer who spoke French and did impressions of Napoleon and as a "freak" who called his lover "Josephine" and asked to be addressed as "Sire", AFP reported.

Both he and his lover studied French history and liked to wear period costumes, with Sokolov dressing up as Napoleon.

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Many expressed dismay, saying Sokolov had always been known for his hostile behaviour but officials had ignored complaints.

Media reports said that Sokolov also beat up and threatened to kill another woman in 2008 but was never charged.

His Police statement revealed that Sokolov is believed to have planned to get rid of the body, after which he would have committed suicide publicly while dressed as French statesman and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, local news outlet, 47, reported.

"Sokolov acted under some sort of strong influence, for now we can only make assumptions", Pochuyev said.

He has worked as a technical adviser to European television broadcasters on films depicting the Napoleonic era, and he was made a knight of the Legion of Honour in France in 2003.

ISSEP was founded by Marine Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal.

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