A picture taken on January 7, 2014, shows Paris Sorbonne University's professor Oleg Sokolov giving orders to his troops during a reenactment of the 1812 war in Saint Petersburg.
Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images
  • A well-known Russian historian and Napoleon expert confessed to murdering his lover, a former student of his, after he was rescued from the Moika River in Saint Petersburg with a backpack containing the woman's sawed-off arms.
  • Oleg Sokolov, 63, told police he killed Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24, during an argument. He then says he sawed off her head, arms, and legs, and planned to get rid of the body before publicly committing suicide dressed as Napoleon.
  • Sokolov was drunk and fell into the Moika River early Saturday morning and had to be rescued. Police found the decapitated body of Yeshchenko at his Saint Petersburg home.
  • Students described Sokolov to French news ourlets as a talented lecturer but a "freak" who referred to Yeshchenko as "Josephine," after Napoleon's first wife.
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A prominent Russian historian and expert on Napoleon confessed to murdering his lover after he was pulled from the Moika River in Saint Petersburg early Saturday morning with a backpack containing her severed arms.

Oleg Sokolov, 63, was a well-known re-enactor of the French military figure, taking part in war reenactments as Napoleon. He planned to publicly commit suicide on Sunday dressed as Napoleon, but was instead taken into custody and admitted full guilt in the murder of Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24, according to his lawyer.

The Washington Post reports that Sokolov first shot Yeshchenko on Thursday, but entertained guests the next day while her body laid behind a closed door.

Yeshchenko had worked with Sokolov to co-author several works on French history. Sokolov told police he killed her during an argument at his home in Saint Petersburg and then sawed off her head, arms, and legs with an ax after his guests left on Friday.

Russian Emergency rescuers and police investigators conduct searches on the Moika River, in Saint Petersburg, on November 10, 2019, following the murder of a woman that implicates Russian historian Oleg Sokolov.
Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

He had planned to dispose of the body but was drunk and either jumped or fell into the river instead, French news outlets report. He was rescued after calling for help. Police found Yeshchenko's body at Sokolov's home afterward.

Sokolov received France's Legion d'Honneur, the highest French order of merit established by Napoleon, in 2003 for his studies. He has written several books on Napoleon and also served as a historical consultant on films.

Students of Sokolov's at St. Petersburg State University told French news outlets that he was a talented lecturer who did impressions of Napoleon, but also described him as a "freak" who asked to be referred to as "sire" and called Yeshchenko "Josephine," after Napoleon's first wife. Students also say the two lived together, but that Yeshchenko had recently moved out.

Sokolov also told police that Yeshchenko's criticisms of his two adult daughters drove him to kill her with a sawed-off shotgun. His lawyer said Sokolov regrets what he has done and is cooperating with authorities. He also said he has received hospital treatment for hypothermia after his rescue from the river.

Sokolov was a member of the scientific committee of France's Institute of Social Science, Economics, and Politics, known as Issep, which was founded by the niece of far-right National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen. Issep confirmed Saturday in a statement that Sokolov had been removed from his position and that "We could never imagine that he could commit such an odious act."

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