A TWISTED Napoleon-obsessed historian who murdered his student lover and butchered her body has been caged for more than 12 years.
Oleg Sokolov, 64, was found drunk in a river with a bag containing the severed arms of Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24, in Russia.
On Christmas Day, a court in St Petersburg convicted the prominent history professor.
After being found guilty of murdering and dismembering the postgraduate student, he was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison.
Prosecutors had requested a 15-year sentence.
Anastasia Yeshchenko was killed at his apartment in November 2019.
Sokolov was detained after being pulled from the Moika River outside his St Petersburg flat with a backpack containing two severed arms inside.
The limbs were identified as Yeshchenko’s.
Then, investigators found her other body parts in the river, as well as in Sokolov’s apartment in the historic part of St Petersburg.
During the trial, Sokolov testified that he and Yeshchenko had a romantic relationship and he admitted to shooting her during a quarrel.
The trial, which spurred activists to voice growing anger over domestic abuse in Russia, began in June after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Yulia Maximenko said that “he was aware of his actions at the time of the crime,” adding that the intent to murder arose “suddenly”.
Last year The Sun reported how the couple were due to marry this year.
But he killed her and wrecked his own life “in several seconds” of madness, said reports.
It emerged that the professor killed Yeshchenko while he hosted a party in his luxury apartment.
He then hacked her body with a saw and a kitchen knife.
Cops later found a stun pistol in his backpack.
After he fatally shot her, he locked Yeshchenko’s body in the spare room and carried on entertaining.
Her head – which had gruesomely been decapitated with a saw – was found near the blood-covered tool at Sokolov’s flat.
The student’s legs were found nine weeks after she went missing.
The discovery came after video showed the professor tossing body parts into the river which flows next to the Yusupov’s Palace.
Sokolov had publicly urged the Russian courts to use the full force of the law against him in his murder trial.
Writing in newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, he said last year: “I understand that I committed a horrific thing and deserve the strictest penalty possible.”
Sokolov added: “I don’t care what is said about me. It doesn’t matter.
“I killed her and myself too. I do not exist.
“My cherished memory of Anastasia is the most important thing for me now.
“We were supposed to get married and were planning the wedding.
“In over five years (dating) I had not raised my hand to her. Even scandals between us were rare.”
He was known for his books about the Napoleonic era and his enthusiastic participation in reenactments of historic battles.
The grisly case attracted widespread media attention in Russia, and across the globe.
A fluent French speaker, Sokolov was a leading member of military reenactment movements since the early 1990s.
He represented Napoleon in numerous representations of historic battles and other events.
Sokolov’s flamboyant style and fiery delivery made him popular among students.
He would speak about his passion for the Napoleonic era in TV interviews.
Because Napoleon was his idol, fellow history buffs would address him ‘Sire’ – the emperor’s title.
Yeshchenko’s parents attended the sentencing on Friday.
Their lawyer, Alexandra Baksheyeva, told reporters that, even though “nothing can bring their daughter back”, the family does not intend to appeal the verdict to request a harsher sentence.
The gruesome murder scandalised Russia after many of his students said Sokolov had exhibited inappropriate behaviour in the past and demanded that management at the university be investigated.
Every year, nearly 16.5million women across Russia fall victim to domestic violence, according to activists.
However, efforts to lobby for a specialised law against violence and protect victims have failed.
HOW YOU CAN GET HELP:
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
- Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – email@example.com.
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service available. from 10am to noon.
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.