A outstanding Saint Petersburg-based Napoleon knowledgeable has confessed to murdering his younger lover and former scholar and dismembering her physique in a grisly crime that despatched shock waves throughout Russia.
Oleg Sokolov, a 63-year-old historical past lecturer who obtained France’s Legion d’Honneur from Jacques Chirac in 2003, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of homicide after he was hauled out of the icy Moika River with a backpack containing a lady’s arms.
“He has admitted his guilt,” Sokolov’s lawyer Alexander Pochuev advised AFP, including he regretted what he had carried out and was cooperating.
A courtroom on Monday will resolve whether or not to arrest the historian, who was being handled for hypothermia in a hospital.
Sokolov was reportedly drunk and fell into the Moika, a tributary of the Neva, in central Saint Petersburg as he tried to eliminate physique elements close to the places of work of investigators.
After disposing of the corpse he reportedly deliberate to commit suicide on the Peter and Paul Fortress, one of many former imperial capital’s most well-known landmarks, dressed as Napoleon.
Sokolov teaches historical past at Saint Petersburg State College, President Vladimir Putin’s alma mater, and was near the Russian authorities.
He advised investigators that he shot and killed his lover throughout an argument after which sawed off her head, legs and arms, media reported.
Pochuev urged Sokolov could have been beneath stress or emotionally disturbed.
“He’s an aged particular person,” he mentioned.
Police found the decapitated physique of Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24, with whom Sokolov had co-authored quite a lot of works, and a blood-stained noticed at his house.
Shock and dismay
The historian, who additionally taught on the Sorbonne, is the writer of books on French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
He acted as a marketing consultant on a number of movies and took half in historic re-enactments of Napoleonic wars.
Each he and his lover studied French historical past and favored to put on interval costumes, with Sokolov dressing up as Napoleon.
College students described Sokolov as each a proficient lecturer who may impersonate the French emperor and his generals and a “freak” who known as his lover “Josephine” and favored to be addressed as “Sire”.
Many expressed dismay, saying Sokolov had lengthy been recognized for his hostile behaviour however officers had ignored complaints.
Vasily Kunin, who studied with the sufferer, blamed college administration.
“They didn’t take note of sure issues,” he advised AFP.
“There was a coverage of hushing issues up.”
Media mentioned that Sokolov additionally beat up and threatened to burn with a sizzling iron and kill one other feminine scholar in 2008 however was by no means charged.
Greater than 800 individuals have signed a petition calling on authorities to punish the Saint Petersburg State College management.
“What occurred is solely monstrous,” a Saint Petersburg State College lecturer advised AFP.
Talking on situation of anonymity, he mentioned Sokolov was devoted to his work however was additionally emotionally unstable and abused alcohol.
Screenwriter Andrew Ryvkin mentioned Sokolov was certainly one of his lecturers, describing the Saint Petersburg-based college as a spot the place “alcoholics” and “anti-Semites” felt relaxed.
‘How did this occur?’
However some individuals who have recognized the lecturer for years mentioned they have been flabbergasted and at a loss to clarify the tragedy.
“I can’t get my head round it,” historian Ilya Kudryashov advised AFP.
“It’s unclear how this might have occurred.”
Kudryashov cautioned individuals towards leaping to conclusions.
His former scholar, Fyodor Danilov, mentioned Sokolov was considered one of many college’s finest lecturers but additionally an eccentric man who at instances yelled in French.
A spokeswoman for the Grand Chancery of the Legion of Honour, talking to AFP, indicated that Sokolov may be stripped of his award.
The ultimate choice rests with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Sokolov was a senior member of the Russian Navy-Historic Society headed by Tradition Minister Vladimir Medinsky.
The organisation instantly sought to distance itself from the controversy.
Sokolov was additionally a member of Lyon-based Institute of Social Science, Economics and Politics (ISSEP), which introduced Saturday that he had been stripped of his place on its scientific committee.
ISSEP was based by Marion Marechal, the niece of Marine Le Pen, chief of the far-right Nationwide Rally social gathering.