ST. PETERSBURG – A court in St. Petersburg on Friday convicted a prominent history professor on charges of murdering and dismembering a female student and sentenced him to 12 1/2 years in prison.
The court found 64-year-old Oleg Sokolov, who taught at St. Petersburg State University, guilty of shooting and killing 24-year-old doctoral student Anastasia Yeshchenko at his apartment in November 2019.
Sokolov was detained after being pulled from the Moika River outside his St. Petersburg apartment with a backpack with two severed arms inside.
The limbs were identified as Yeshchenko’s, and investigators found other body parts in the river and in Sokolov’s apartment in the historic part of St. Petersburg, less than a mile from the Hermitage Museum.
During the trial, Sokolov testified that he and Yeshchenko had a romantic relationship and that he shot her during a quarrel.
Prosecutors have requested a 15-year sentence.
Sokolov was known for his books about the Napoleonic era and his enthusiastic participation in reenactments of historic battles, and his case attracted broad attention in Russia.
A fluent French speaker, Sokolov was a leading member of military reenactment movements since the early 1990s and represented Napoleon in numerous representations of historic battles and other events.
Sokolov's flamboyant style and fiery delivery made him popular among students, and he spoke about his passion for the Napoleonic era in TV interviews. Napoleon was his idol and fellow history buffs would address him ‘Sire,’ the emperor’s title.